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Mike London considered replacing QB Marc Verica after third interception against Duke

By Steve Yanda

Virginia Coach Mike London said Sunday night that he considered replacing Marc Verica after the fifth-year senior quarterback threw his third intercepion during Saturday's 55-48 loss at Duke. Verica threw for a school-record 417 yards and four touchdowns on 24 of 46 passing, but he also threw three interceptions -- the last of which came less than a minute into the fourth quarter, at which point Virginia trailed by six.

"The last one in the fourth quarter he probably stared down the receiver a little bit too much and allowed the underneath coverage to make a break on the ball and the guy got the interception," London said. "I was thinking about maybe it's time to put in another quarterback. And then they got the ball and they scored. And I said, 'I'm going to give him one last shot.'"

Following a Duke touchdown and a failed two-point conversion, Virginia got the ball back down by 12 with 12 minutes, 22 seconds to play. Verica led the Cavaliers on a nine-play, 78-yard drive that concluded with a 10-yard touchdown pass to sophomore tailback Perry Jones. Virginia trailed by five with just less than nine minutes remaining in regulation.

The back-and-fourth affair continued. Duke went 80 yards in eight plays and scored a touchdown. Virginia went 75 yards in seven plays and scored a touchdown. Trailing by five, the Cavaliers forced a fumble and then scored four plays later. The two-point conversion failed, but with just more than two minutes to play, Virginia led by one.

Verica "probably was his best at the end, toward the latter part of the game," London said. "I wish it would have been at the earlier part, but he probably was his best in some of the throws that he made after that third interception. They were some really exceptional throws, and I didn't know that he had 400 yards throwing afterwards. You just wish that those other three interceptions, at least we were still driving the ball."

Verica completed 8 of 13 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns on the two drives following his third interception. In the fourth quarter, Verica threw for 165 yards on 9 of 19 passing. On the season, Verica has thrown 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

London said that on Verica's first interception -- which he came less than five minutes into the game from the Virginia 14-yard-line and was returned to the two-yard-line -- the veteran quarterback should have thrown the ball out of bounds, "and we live to see another day. Because that set up a score, and before you know it, they're up 14-0."

Verica's second interception came during the third quarter on a pass down the right side of the field intended for senior wide receiver Dontrelle Inman. Duke cornerback Ross Cockrell tipped the ball to himself, watched it bounce off his facemask and then secured the catch.

"The second one was basically an error by the receiver in the route that he was supposed to run," London said. "Marc maybe could have threw it away, but he tried to make a throw based on the route that the receiver ran and it kind of tipped a little bit, and they're guy made a great play on it."

By Steve Yanda  | November 7, 2010; 7:49 PM ET
Categories:  Football  
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Next: Chase Minnifield's ankle injury forces shuffling of roles in Virginia secondary

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