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Posted at 6:12 PM ET, 11/20/2010

True freshman QB Michael Rocco played one series vs. B.C.

By Steve Yanda

Following two first-half Virginia scoring drives that each lasted 13 or more plays, Virginia Coach Mike London replaced fifth-year senior quarterback Marc Verica with true freshman Michael Rocco. Prior to that point, Virginia's offense had operated fairly smoothly, and Verica seemed to be in decent rhythm with his receivers.

London had said in the days that followed Virginia's 42-23 loss to Maryland last week that he and his coaching staff would find more snaps during the season's final two weeks for the team's younger players, such as Rocco. But the timing of Saturday's move was interesting, to say the least.

On one hand, it made sense to get Rocco some snaps in a relatively low-pressure circumstance. On the other hand, Virginia held a seven-point lead at that point and had an opportunity to separate further from the Eagles on the scoreboard.

"It’s hard to take the starter out at any point," Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor said. "We knew for certain that, regardless of the game situation, there would be at least one series that one of the backup quarterbacks would play. I’d hoped it was going to be such that two could; it just didn’t work out quite that way. You kind of have to force yourself, especially in a tight game."

On Thursday, London said Rocco would be inserted into relatively safe situations and would not be asked to make too many risky decisions or throws. And so it was that Rocco – making his fifth appearance of the season – completed three passes for 12 yards during his lone second quarter drive. Virginia advanced 25 yards on that series before having to punt.

"At that time we just made a decision to put him in and, again, try to evaluate him with the common denominator of ... going against a good defense," London said. "Unfortunately, we weren't able to get (redshirt freshman quarterback) Ross (Metheny) in there. But we got Michael in there ... It's a learning process for him, and we'll continue to do that again next week."

Boston College got the ball back with just more than two minutes remaining in the first half and commenced a six-play, 82-yard drive that spanned 56 seconds and concluded with a 39-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Chase Rettig to wide receiver Alex Amidon to tie the score, 10-10.

Virginia’s ensuing drive began with 1 minute, 21 seconds left in the second quarter, and Verica returned to lead the Cavaliers offense. Verica fumbled the ball on the second play of the series, but ended up Verica completing all five of his pass attempts for 65 yards. That set up a 40-yard field goal into the wind by Robert Randolph to give Virginia a three-point lead entering halftime.

Verica completed 16 of 22 passes for 148 yards in the first half and led the Cavaliers on scoring drives of 16 and 13 plays. Rocco did not re-enter the game after that lone second-quarter drive.

By Steve Yanda  | November 20, 2010; 6:12 PM ET
Categories:  Football  
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Next: Virginia to begin Nov. 27 season finale at Virginia Tech at noon


I thought there was way too much Verica in the game. Would have liked to see more of the freshmen.

Posted by: gws2p | November 22, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

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