Scattershooting: Cavaliers have success playing two QBs - The Daily Progress: Sports

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Scattershooting: Cavaliers have success playing two QBs

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Posted: Thursday, November 8, 2012 7:01 pm

Scattershooting around the ACC, while thinking Virginia’s decision to play both starting quarterbacks was a good one …

Normally, I subscribe to the old axiom that if you’ve got more than one quarterback, you don’t have a quarterback. Not in this case. Both junior Michael Rocco (five starts) and sophomore Phillip Sims (four starts) have struggled with consistency in this season, so why not play ‘em both?

If you break down their individual stats, but combine the two, it makes for a pretty good performance: Rocco has completed 107-of-184 passes for 1,285 yards and eight TDs (also eight picks, ouch). Sims is 92-for-165 for 1,115 yards and four TDs (four picks).

Combined, that’s 199-for-349 for 2,400 yards and 16 TDs (12 picks). Comparatively, the combined 283.9 yards passing per game would rank fourth in the ACC just behind Boston College’s Chase Rettig with 284.6 yards per game.

The 199 completions are the third highest among ACC starters. The 349 attempts are tied for second (did you realize UVa was such a passing team?), while the 2,400 passing yards are fourth and the 16 TDs are fourth. The 12 interceptions combined are the worst among ACC starting quarterbacks.

I asked UVa coach Mike London how much debate or conversation went into the decision during the bye week and what he likes about playing both.

“There wasn’t a whole lot of debate about it,” London said. “As practice went on and looking at the things that they do well and trying to game plan and fit plays that fit their skills, whether it’s based on arm strength or using the ball to run out of pocket scenarios with them, we just looked at it as here we have two guys that have run the offense and they both bring something to the table for us.”

London and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor decided to put together a scheme that both can benefit from. The strategy worked perfectly last week in the upset at N.C. State and now Miami has to prepare for both, as London stated that the Cavaliers will continue with the two-QB system this weekend.

Hokies up against it

Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said that the Florida State team coming into Blacksburg for tonight’s nationally televised game (ESPN) deserves to be higher than its No. 8 national ranking. He’s probably right.

Beamer’s Hokies are 4-5 overall and 2-3 in ACC play and suffering from inexperience and a lack of consistency. FSU is 8-1, 5-1, and hoping to make postseason noise if teams ahead of the Seminoles falter down the stretch.

Florida State’s offense leads the country with an average of 7.70 yards per snap, nearly a half-yard more than anyone else. The Seminoles average 9.85 yards per pass play, which also leads the nation by a wide margin.

But it’s the Noles’ defense that Beamer is most worried about.

“There are not many teams that can just rush four and get constant pressure on the quarterback,” Beamer said. “They’re one team that can. They’re extremely fast at linebacker and extremely quick in the secondary. So, they earned that number one defense in the country.”

A few facts:

Virginia Tech enters the game ranked No. 65 in the country in total offense (401.44), which is behind rival Virginia (No. 56, 412.11), and even more shockingly, Bud Foster’s defense ranked No. 40 nationally in total defense (367.89), also ranked behind UVa in that category (Cavs are No. 32, 341.22). Does that mean Wahoos defensive coordinator Jim Reid is a defensive genius?

Also, Tech will be making its 26th appearance on Thursday Night Football, most in the ACC. The Hokies are 19-6 on Thursday’s, 8-3 at home. FSU is 7-5 on Thursday night. By the way, best in the ACC and nationally on Thursday’s is Miami (16-3).

If Virginia Tech loses tonight as expected, the Hokies will be 4-6 overall. They should beat Boston College next week to go 5-6, but would need to beat rival Virginia in Blacksburg in the last game of the season to qualify for a bowl.

Reid and the Wahoos

Speaking of Jim Reid as a defensive genius, remember what he said at the beginning of the season about needing a very young squad to play beyond its years?

Maybe that’s finally happening.

Consider that over the last three games (Maryland, Wake, N.C. State), those three collective offenses have averaged only 3.98 plays per drive and were a collective 5-for-41 on third-down conversions (12.2 percent). UVa’s defense held those teams to a combined 664 yards or 221.3 per game.

Miami coach Al Golden has taken note of UVa’s improvement on that side of the ball.

“The first thing that jumps out at you is how good [the Cavaliers’ defense] uses their hands,” said Golden, who will be making his first visit to Charlottesville since leaving here as Al Groh’s assistant in 2006. “I said it a year ago, I think they’re well trained in terms of their hand-to-hand combat. They’re very rugged and strong.

“I think you’re starting to see Mike Moore and Eli Harold [true freshman defensive ends], and some of those young guys step up,” Golden said Wednesday. “Chris Brathwaite and all of those guys are starting to step up and see more action and that’s allowing them to stay fresher. I thought they really got after the quarterback [N.C. State’s Mike Glennon] last week, not just six sacks, but they must have hit him a dozen times.”

Wahoos could be spoilers

If Miami (4-2 ACC) wins at Virginia this weekend for its fifth conference victory, it would force Duke (bye week) to win out for a shot at the Coastal Division title.

Duke (3-3) plays at Georgia Tech on Nov. 17, and then hosts Miami on the last weekend of the regular season, the 24th, in a game that could be for all the marbles. Did you ever think you’d read that?

If Virginia beats Miami (the oddsmakers have made the Cavaliers a one-point favorite), then the ‘Canes could enter the final weekend needing to beat Duke to take their first-ever ACC division title.

Speaking of oddsmakers, did you realize that when Virginia upset N.C. State last week that it entered the game as the only FBS team in the nation that had not covered the spread all season long?

Home sweet home

If Clemson wins as predicted against banged-up Maryland this Saturday, the Tigers would set a new record for the longest home winning streak in the program’s 117-year history with 12 straight wins at Death Valley.

Clemson presently owns the third-longest active home winning streak in the country.

“To be able to win this week and set that record, to me, is something really special to be a part of,” said Tigers coach Dabo Swinney. “When I got this job, one of the very first things I said to our team was that if we’re going to be a consistent program, if we’re going to take this program back to the top and be a national contender, we’ve got to win at home. It starts at home.”

If you’re a Virginia fan and wondering about what the Cavaliers record for consecutive home wins is, you’re in luck.

Back when UVa was the South’s most predominant football program, the Cavaliers won 24 consecutive home games beginning Nov. 11, 1899 (a win over Virginia Tech) through Oct. of 1904 (a win over N.C. State). Navy ended the Cavaliers’ record run in Nov. of 1904 by a score of 5-0 (note: in those days, touchdowns were worth but five points).

Since then, the Cavaliers have a pair of 12-win home streaks: from 1950-52 by Art Guepe’s boys, and from Nov. 5, 1988 (N.C. State) to Oct. 13, 1990 (also N.C. State). That streak by George Welsh’s teams ended in the best college football game I’ve ever seen, a 41-38 loss at Scott Stadium to Georgia Tech. UVa was ranked No. 1 in the nation. Georgia Tech went on to win a share of a split national title.

Welsh also had a nine-game (1991-92) and an eight-game (1998-99) home winning streak. Coach Al Groh had a pair of eight-game home winning streaks from 2002-03 and from 2003-04.

Stat of the week I

Miami has played 21 freshmen already this season, including 16 true freshmen.

Stat of the week II

Miami is a quick-score team. Of the Hurricanes’ 38 touchdowns this season, 17 of those drives have required less than two minutes and seven of them took less than 60 seconds.

Quote of the week

Looking back at last weekend’s loss to Virginia, coach Tom O’Brien of N.C. State said Wednesday that other than turnovers, there was another key to the game: “[Virginia] controlled the line of scrimmage and that was the most disturbing part for me, and us as a coaching staff, and the football team as they watch [film]. [Virginia] controlled the line of scrimmage both offensively and defensively.”

It has been a long time since Wahoos have heard an opposing coach mutter those phrases.

Short yardage

…UNC tight end Eric Ebron became one of major college football’s rare two-way performers when he also played about a dozen snaps at defensive end for the Tar Heels recently. …Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said since the Hokies joined the ACC, their recruiting philosophy is to basically stay within a six-hour drive of Blacksburg unless it’s a special situation. …Add Duke’s David Cutcliffe to the list of coaches that will be heavily pursued by schools making changes. Cutcliffe’s name popped up at Kentucky, which fired Joker Phillips this week. Cutcliffe’s name has already been mentioned at Tennessee if UVa grad Derek Dooley isn’t retained.

The picks

Last week: 4-1. To date: 52-13. Tonight: Florida State 27, Virginia Tech 14. Saturday: Notre Dame 44, Boston College 17; Clemson 30, Maryland 13; North Carolina 37, Georgia Tech 23; N.C. State 27, Wake Forest 24; Miami 33, Virginia 30.

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