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Virginia Football: Is Matt Johns leading the race to be the Hoos’ starting quarterback?

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Virginia James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

While on ESPN Radio’s Russillo & Kanell on Tuesday, Virginia football coach Bronco Mendenhall was asked about the current quarterback controversy in Charlottesville. Incumbent starter Matt Johns has a full season’s worth of experience at QB1 from last year, along with three starts and appearances in all 12 games in 2014.

Mendenhall seems comfortable with the intangibles that Johns, a fourth-year, has to offer from a leadership and experience standpoint.

“It's a three-man race with Matt Johns having the most experience, and clearly the strongest leader so far, which our team is identifying with,” Mendenhall said. “Connor Brewer was given a chance in the spring and really made the most of it and became very efficient. He and Matt really left the spring neck-and-neck, which was a surprise to most of us as coaches.”

That evaluation came before Kurt Benkert transferred to UVa from East Carolina in mid-May, adding another question mark to the battle for the starting job.

If Johns does indeed start on Sept. 3 against Richmond, he would be the first UVa quarterback to start consecutive season openers since Michael Rocco in 2011 and 2012, and just the second since current UVa wide receivers coach Marques Hagans (2004-05). Johns threw 20 touchdowns, the most for a UVa quarterback since Matt Schaub in 2002, and 17 interceptions last year.

Here’s a look at the total number of games that the three have started and played in over the years.

  • Johns (Senior): 36 appearances and 15 starts (336-565 for 3,919 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 22 interceptions) at UVa.
  • Brewer (Senior): Two appearances each at Arizona (no pass attempts) and UVa (4-8 for 34 yards, one interception), no starts.
  • Benkert (Junior): Three appearances at ECU (8-10 for 58 yards, one interception), no starts.

Click here to listen to Mendenhall’s full interview, with his comments on the quarterback situation starting around the 6:00 mark.