Virginia coach Mike London held a teleconference with reporters Monday. Here is a little of what he had to say.
London gave a quick update on what is happening at quarterback, with Michael Rocco, David Watford and Alabama transfer Phillip Sims. "We're at a point where Phil is now this week is going to be exposed to more things," London said. "We're going to have a couple scrimmages. The only way you can really know is when coaches are off the field and they're calling plays and have to execute. They're progressing nicely. Michael, his knowledge of the offense continues to improve, same with David. With Phillip having been in a pro-style offense before, he understands the concepts." What will they be judged on? "Accuracy, every throw they make, every situation they're in -- whether it's one-on-one, team, throwing with running backs, tight ends on air, they they they're being evaluated. This is an important week for us to see if there is going to be some separation made."
Finding players to step up in the defensive backfield is of paramount importance this season, with only one starter returning. Though it is early in camp, one true freshman has stood out so far -- Maurice Canady, a versatile in-state athlete who played a variety of positions in high school. Canady came into Virginia and wanted to try and play defensive back first. What has helped him so far is his background as a receiver and quarterback, because he understands route running, from how deep a route goes to where a quarterback is going to throw the ball. "So far he's shown the physical and athletic skills that show promise for him," London said. "Now as we start to add more coverages, more things, we're going to see if he can handle it. But right now, he's doing a nice job."
London also has been pleased with the way receivers Dominique Terrell and Darius Jennings have started to mentor the younger players. Terrell and Jennings are not exactly veterans themselves, with Tim Smith being the elder statesman of the group, but they are actively helping out in any way they can. "What you see is more of a mature approach," London said. "They're guys that played in college games before. ... They want everybody to get it. They know our passing game is a timing game. If these young guys understand how to run their routes, it's going to help the entire team."
There is plenty of talent and depth at the running back position, and London said the team will explore creative ways to get all of his playmakers involved. That means seeing more guys on special teams, specifically a player like Khalek Shepherd on punt returns. "People talk about two halfbacks in the game, which is very possible, very doable for us because of the matchups they present," London said. "We'll come up with creative ways, not only through offense but also through special teams. We are going to try to utilize all their skills, that's for sure. As we get the plays and the opportunities, I can guarantee each one will be cheering each other on."
At guard, another player who has stood out is Cody Wallace. "Cody's a tough guy, tenacious guy," London said. "Might not be the most athletic guy, but he'll try to hit you, bite you on your ankles, whatever it takes. You like that kind of attitude from a guy. He's quietly inserted himself or put him in position to battle for that guard position. Right now, Cody has that spot because of what he's done to this point."