Mike London: 'There is no quarterback controversy. Marc Verica is our quarterback.'
Following his three-interception performance Saturday during Virginia's 44-10 loss to North Carolina, fifth-year senior quarterback Marc Verica acknowledged that Coach Mike London had a decision to make about whether to keep him in the starting role.
On Monday, London declared his choice for Saturday's home game against Eastern Michigan (1-6). Despite having thrown as many interceptions (six) as touchdowns thus far this season, Verica will hold off redshirt freshman Ross Metheny and true freshman Michael Rocco and keep the starting job for at least another week.
"There is no quarterback controversy," London said. "Marc Verica is our quarterback. He gives us the best opportunity to win any games right now until he proves otherwise. But we will continue to keep trying to find moments to put Michael (Rocco) and Ross Metheny in the game to find out how much they can close the gap, or how much they'll widen the gap between each other."
Since the season began, London and his staff have anticipated either Metheny or Rocco definitively claiming the role of Virginia's No. 2 quarterback through their efforts in practice. That time, however, has yet to come, which may help to explain why London remains hesitant to hand over the reins of the offense to one of them.
Metheny has appeared in three games and has completed 11 of 15 passes for two touchdowns and an interception. When he entered Saturday's loss to North Carolina during the third quarter, he fumbled the first snap, bobbled a few others and threw an interception at the goal-line.
Rocco succeeded Metheny under center in the fourth quarter Saturday. He threw for 45 yards and an end zone interception of his own on 3 of 8 passing. London noted Rocco also struggled at times to get the offense lined up in the proper formation. Saturday's marked Rocco's second appearance of the season. He has completed 7 of 14 passes for one touchdown and two interceptions.
"It's going to take some accuracy with some throws," London said. "Michael's at the stage of being a young quarterback that the tempo of the game is such that when you get out there, it demands the quarterback having a presence about him to get people lined up to make the right calls, get us in the right formations. For whatever reason when Ross was in there, there was an issue with the center-quarterback exchange. So there are issues there that he has to deal with, and they'll both get better at it because they'll have to both go in.
"We'll continue to play them. But neither one of them is at the point where we're going to go in a game and say we're going to win this game because of where they are in their development right now."
At 2-4 and winless in three Atlantic Coast Conference games this season, London understands that his team largely is being written off right now by the general public and even many of Virginia's own fans. The Cavaliers would need to win five of their final six games to become bowl eligible.
But for now, London said he will continue to go with the quarterback that gives his team the best chance to win this season. And he believes that quarterback is Verica.
On the season, Verica has completed 57.8 percent of his passes, which ties for the fourth-best mark in the ACC. He is averaging 214.3 passing yards per game, which ranks fifth in the conference.
But it is Verica's propensity to throw interceptions that draws ire from many Virginia fans. Some disgruntled Cavaliers supporters booed Verica off the field after his third and final interception Saturday at Scott Stadium.
"I think what it is with a guy that wants to do so well -- I mean, he hears the boos out there," London said. "He heard them last year. Obviously, it's unfortunate. I'll continue to support him as I need to."
| October 18, 2010; 4:17 PM ET
Save & Share: Previous: Virginia game Oct. 30 vs. Miami to start at noon
Next: Despite his struggles, Devin Wallace 'still wants to challenge players'