There is nearly a full two weeks remaining until the Virginia football team begins spring practice.
Tuesday, Mike London got the discussion going with a 35-minute press conference at John Paul Jones Arena. Until things are kicked off on March 18 at the McCue Center, storylines will be tossed around.
London, going into his fourth season as UVa’s head coach, provided some preview points to media members:
* The Cavaliers will begin with three available quarterbacks. Redshirt freshman Matt Johns is battling mononucleosis, meaning Phillip Sims, David Watford and Greyson Lambert will start the competition under new offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild.
“The evaluation of the quarterbacks is something that will definitely be a priority for us,” London said.
Sims, a rising junior, threw for 1,263 yards and nine touchdowns to four interceptions last season. He started four games.
Watford, a sophomore-to-be, redshirted last year. He appeared in 10 games in 2011.
Lambert, a redshirt freshman, is a 6-foot-5, 215-pound former highly touted recruit out of Jesup, Ga.
* Defensive lineman Courtnye Wynn is no longer on the team. Offensive tackle Kelby Johnson and tight end Jeremiah Mathis have each been suspended indefinitely for what London phrased as “conduct detrimental to the team or one’s self.”
The Johnson suspension takes away his immediate chances to compete for the tackle spot left vacant by departing All-Atlantic Coast Conference performer Oday Aboushi.
An emerging candidate there is Sean Cascarano, a 6-6, 280-pound former guard who has been switched to tackle.
“[It’s] probably the more natural position for him right now,” London said.
* In the defensive backfield, Anthony Harris and Brandon Phelps have been flipped. Harris is now a strong safety and Phelps is a free safety. Those two combined for 135 tackles and an interception last season.
* Former fullback Zachary Swanson has moved to tight end. Senior Billy Skrobacz is now the lone returning letterman at fullback.
“You have a returner like Jake McGee, who is hard in the weight room putting on extra weight,” London said of his tight ends. “But you want a guy that has that physical presence and the ability, the physical skill to be a tight end. Zach [6-6, 255 pounds] came in as a tight end.”
* UVa will not travel off-Grounds for any practice this spring.
“We’ve had a lot of success in the last couple of years in doing that [traveling],” London said. “The focus [this year] was going to be primarily on this team, on what we needed to get accomplished. I think, with the new schemes and the systems that we have, it served our best interest to be here, to be home.”
* Aside from Johns, other Wahoos who will be out or limited during the spring because of injury include defensive tackle Marco Jones, safeties Darius Lee, David Marrs and Pablo Alvarez and linebacker Adam Caplinger.
* Dates to remember:
March 18 — first practice
March 19 — Pro Day for former UVa players
April 6 — Orange-Blue Spring Game