Bill Lazor: No. 2 QB battle ongoing; Rocco has practiced better of late than Metheny
Virginia Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor said Wednesday night that the search for a definitive No. 2 quarterback behind fifth-year senior starter Marc Verica remains ongoing, though he noted that true freshman Michael Rocco has performed better in practice in recent weeks than has redshirt freshman Ross Metheny.
Rocco entered Saturday's 48-21 win over Eastern Michigan before Metheny. In every previous instance this season when both backup quarterbacks had played in a game, Metheny had gone first. While Lazor cautioned against reading too much into Rocco and Metheny's pattern of game entrance, he did acknowledge that Rocco had been rewarded for being the superior of the two reserves in the last week to two weeks of practice.
"We absolutely are encouraging and are trying to create competition amongst the guys," Lazor said. "And if you noticed in this past game Michael was the first to go in. And in other games Ross had gone in first. I think that that helps, for them to just know -- I mean, they may not always enjoy it, but that's how we're approaching it. Hey, it's competition. We want someone to raise up and to take over, and who knows what the future's going to hold for these guys?
"But I think it's realistic that (finding a clear No. 2 quarterback) will still happen because we're trying to put a ton of stress on 'em in practice, you know, positive stress, as far as the preasure of having to perform the right way, and I think, as far as I know, that's the way to create an environment where they're going to get better, and one will show eventually."
In terms of deciding which of the two backup quarterbacks performed better in practice, Lazor said it sometimes is as simple as "two throws this way or that way." Other times, he said, it's judged by charting Rocco and Metheny's throws or by how they act during positional and team meetings.
"I wouldn't read too much into it because it's not like it's a huge, 'Here, I'll show you the stats,' kind of thing," Lazor said. "We're just trying to create competition."
On the season, Metheny has appeared in four games, completing 11 of 15 passes for 121 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Rocco has completed 8 of 16 throws for 120 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in three games.
Lazor said Rocco is benefiting merely from having played in games at this point in his career, regardless of the opponent, the circumstance or the outcome of his performance.
"There's no doubt that the best way to improve the fastest is to play," Lazor said. "That doesn't mean it's always the right thing to do. You always have to, in my opinion, weigh the good of the team and the good of the player and put those things together when you have to make a decision. And we do it along with the young man, and Coach (Mike) London and Michael and myself, we all kind of spend some time (talking about) what's the right thing to do for the team and for Michael.
"Every time he gets in there, he experiences new things. Sometimes it's just as simple as the different situations to be out there if he's handing the ball off. Sometimes it's as helpful as, hey, here's another pass play that you've run full speed in a game. You got to see a different defense. And he's going to get better every single time he takes a rep, and we're seeing it happen. And the thing that I think is fun to see is when a guy gets to start playing in college football games and then you see him that next Tuesday come out to practice, and the practice is different because he's played at game speed. And that's happening."
| October 28, 2010; 6:03 AM ET
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