Michael Rocco. Phillip Sims. The quarterback controversy is far from over.
When Sims replaced Rocco for a short stint in the second half of the Penn State game and failed to inspire, Rocco came back with focus, putting together a nice six-and-a-half minute drive that ate up clock and resulted in the game-winning touchdown for the Hoos. For me, I was confident that this meant Rocco had all but sealed the deal as the team's starting quarterback, and I was prepared not to have to discuss this any further.
But after a disappointing 56-20 pummeling on Saturday at the hands of Georgia Tech, Virginia fans find themselves still asking, "Who should be QB One?"
There's no good answer to this question, and certainly no consensus amongst the fans. It doesn't even help to look solely at Saturday's performance and ignore any arguments of whether Rocco earned the right to start based on last year's battle and performance.
Before I get to discussing anything here, let me be crystal clear: the crux of Saturday's meltdown was not on either of these two quarterbacks. Virginia's defense was simply unable to find any solution to Georgia Tech's running game (461 yards) or really, for that matter, their passing game (133 yards). Tevin Washington, when he wasn't too busy letting his helmet fly off, was able to do anything he wanted on Saturday, and that's how a team scores 56 points on you, not the performance of your own quarterback.
Nor can you say that the Virginia offense wasn't able to give the D any rest, as the Cavaliers held a slight edge in time of possession, holding onto the ball for 31:23 to Georgia Tech's 28:37.
Rocco went 15 for 25 (60%) on Saturday, for total of 143 yards, averaging 5.7 yards per completion. He threw one touchdown, but two interceptions. Sims, on the other hand, threw 6 of 8 (75%) for 56 yards, averaging 7.0 yards per completion. A much smaller sample size, but he did get two touchdowns and no interceptions, and demonstrated a lot more zip in each pass.
Also worth factoring into the equation is that Sims wasn't playing against the Yellow Jackets' first string, which had the luxury of resting on the bench by the time he came onto the field.
Against Georgia Tech, I'll go ahead and take a position on this and say that Sims was the one to play. This is not a reflection on the season as a whole, but when Virginia's offensive line just completely breaks down and doesn't offer the quarterback any protection, I think Sims has a quicker release, without sacrificing his accuracy.
And that's where resolution is on this matter. It didn't matter, really, if it was Sims or Rocco or Tim Tebow doing the playcalling (unless Tebow has some help from upstairs), not so long as the offensive line played the way it did. Georgia Tech's T.J. Barnes and Desmond Smith, though they didn't have a great impact on the stat sheet, came out swimming on every play, pressuring Rocco at just about every turn. Virginia's O-Line was just unable to respond. Morgan Moses's holding call that negated a big reception by Darius Jennings didn't help the cause, though by no means did the one play define the game.
So however you come out on the debate - whether you think Rocco deserves the next start or needs to be canned - you can't really make a permanent decision based on this one game. Everyone has a bad day and it's unfair to go all in with Sims based solely on his hype. This guy has full faith and confidence in Coach London, Bill Lazor and company to be able to assess the quarterback situation.