There has been no ringing endorsement this spring of David Watford as Virginia’s starting quarterback this fall, but to be fair, none of the three quarterbacks on the roster have been anointed No. 1 just yet.
It just sounds like Greyson Lambert has at least closed the gap significantly this spring, which means the quarterback race this summer should be all the more interesting in Charlottesville.
I asked Virginia offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild on Tuesday if Lambert has passed Watford as the leading candidate to start this fall, and this was his response:
“I don’t know that he’s passed [Watford], but we definitely have a quarterback battle,” Fairchild said. “We’ll sit down after the spring and let everybody know what we think so far, if there’s somebody who has performed well enough, we’ll name him the starter. If not, we’ll take it into the summer and August, but I think it’s good right now doing what we’re doing. We’re looking at all three guys. As soon as we can get it down to two, we’ll do it, and then when we can get it down to one, we’ll do that.”
Here is Fairchild’s scouting report on all three QBs:
On Lambert: “Greyson Lambert had a good spring, much more consistent than he was a year ago. He’s got a big upside talent-wise in terms of a strong arm. Big, strong kid back there. Certainly knows a lot more about the offense than he did last spring or early fall camp, and has shown somewhat the capability of being involved in the quarterback run game and the zone read game, to function in that capacity."
On Watford: "David has picked up where he left off. He’s got to improve quite a bit with his consistency, but he’s throwing the ball well and certainly has the legs to help us in the run game, and as we improve around him, he’s looked better this spring."
On Matt Johns: "Matt Johns wasn’t really available for us last spring. He was made basically a scout-team quarterback. He’s obviously getting his first taste of action in this system and has done some nice things."
Prediction: Lambert wins the job in August. Watford was inconsistent as the full-time starter last season, and that hasn’t changed this spring, according to the coaches. To say that he “picked up where he left off” isn't necessarily a good thing.
Watford ranked No. 104 last season in passing yards per completion with 9.02. He was No. 102 in the country in passing efficiency and had an ACC-high 15 interceptions. Two of those picks came in a span of five minutes in the fourth quarter of a 45-14 loss at North Carolina.
Lambert made the most of his limited snaps last season when he replaced Watford at North Carolina and on his second attempt threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Keeon Johnson. He finished that game having completed 8 of 13 passes for 75 yards and a touchdown. Lambert finished the season 33-of-75 for 340 yards and one touchdown. Johns is simply behind the others in the learning curve and experience.
All three quarterbacks still have something to prove in summer camp, but Watford might have the most.