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Bill Lazor: Verica 'seemed very much in control' against Spiders

On a second and seven at the Richmond 15 yard-line with about seven minutes left in the third quarter Saturday night, fifth-year senior quarterback Marc Verica completed a pass to junior wideout Kris Burd that would have been good for a first down. Or at least, that was the initial call. The play was reviewed, and the call was overturned.

Incomplete pass. Third down. Virginia clung to a 14-13 lead.

On the next play, Verica scanned downfield for his potential targets before throwing the ball to his check-down option, fifth-year senior tailback Raynard Horne. The Cavaliers gained eight yards and a first down on the completion. Fifth-year senior tailback Keith Payne scored on a two-yard touchdown run two plays later.

When asked after the game to assess Verica’s performance, Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor lauded the quarterback for his poise.

“He seemed very much in control of any situations we had to deal with on the sideline,” Lazor said.

Verica completed 24 of 35 passes (68.6 percent) for a career-high 283 yards and a touchdown. He completed passes to nine different Cavaliers, including a 51-yard strike to junior wideout Kris Burd.

Not all of Verica’s throws were on target – including some of the ones that were caught – but most of his decisions were sound.

“I thought Marc did a really good job” of distributing the ball, Coach Mike London said. “He was able to throw the ball deep to some of our guys. We had two wide receivers that did a pretty good job catching the ball, and then also not trying to win the game by doing something heroic.

“Just hand the ball off to a guy like Keith Payne or Perry Jones and just stay within yourself and try to throw high completions and just move the chains that way. If he can do that, then he can help us. I was pleased to see that throughout most of the game he was able to do that.”

Up next for Verica and the Cavaliers is a Southern California defense that gave up 459 passing yards in a 49-36 win Thursday at Hawaii. Outside of senior starting cornerback Shareece Wright, the Trojans' secondary is fairly young and inexperienced.

True freshman cornerback Nickell Robey started opposite Wright against Hawaii. Redshirt freshman Torin Harris and sophomore Brian Baucham backed up Wright and Robey. USC started two sophomores -- Jawanza Starling and T.J. McDonald -- at the safety positions.

By Steve Yanda  |  September 7, 2010; 10:11 AM ET
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