Will Peter Lalich or one of the other QBs get the starting nod on Saturday?
Let’s get the question on everyone’s mind out of the way. No, Virginia still hasn’t named a starter at quarterback. Not that anyone really expected something different at UVa’s weekly press conference Tuesday. The good news? The Cavaliers have become a lot more entertaining with their answers to the inevitable quarterback questions.
Take Kevin Ogletree for example.
“Umm, we know …” Ogletree said before spoiling the drama by finishing “it will be No. 15, 6, or 7. That’s all that really matters.” He later added: “Somebody’s going to step into the huddle and whoever it is, they’re going to be ready.”
Senior guard Zak Stair said it’s easy enough to lose track of who is back there in practice, much less who is going to start on Saturday. He said sometimes he’ll turn around in practice for the next huddle and there’s a new man in the rotation.
After their individual interview sessions were over, some of the players were joking that all of the quarterbacks were in the mix. Clint Sintim even said that “85” John Phillips is going to get a shot at the gig.
UVa coach Al Groh eventually got in on the act too. A TV reporter tried a different approach by asking if it the race was between two or three players at this point. Groh paused and then deadpanned: “Tricky huh?”
“They’re all getting reps, they’re all doing nicely,” he continued. “Riko Smalls looked good yesterday.”
In other words, no one other than the Virginia coaching staff is sure who will start against Southern California. Or at least no one is saying. Many outside observers have pointed to Peter Lalich as the favorite, but have also agreed that the experience of Scott Deke makes him an option. Marc Verica figures into the mix as well because of his mobility and Spring Game showing. The truth is it probably doesn’t matter who starts the opener. After all, Groh has noted numerous times in the past few weeks that the team probably will play several quarterbacks early on to see if game action can create separation where the practice competition has not.
USC coach Pete Carroll, meanwhile, said he expects Lalich to start.
Depth Chart Notes
- Austin Pasztor , a true freshman, and Isaac Cain , a sophomore, are listed as the back-up guards.
- Lamar Milstead , a redshirt freshman, and Landon Bradley , a redshirt freshman, are listed as the back-up tackles.
- Keith Payne is the back-up fullback.
- Dontrelle Inman and Cary Koch are listed as the back-up receivers.
- Cedric Peerman , Mikell Simpson , and Kevin Ogletree are listed as kick returners. Vic Hall is the punt return starter with Ogletree backing up.
- Matt Conrath is the defensive end starter on the right side with Kevin Crawford backing up. Sean Gottschalk is not on the depth chart and Groh said the team is still allowing him time to deal with “personal business.”
- Alex Field , Zane Parr , and Jason Fuller are listed in that order on the left side at defensive end.
- There is no starter listed at OLB between Aaron Clark and Denzel Burrell .
- Brandon Woods remains at the top of the safety chart with Byron Glaspy.
- As announced earlier in the preseason, kicker Yannick Reyering and punter Jimmy Howell are the listed starters.
Keith Payne is listed as the back-up fullback on UVa’s depth chart.
It’s probably fair to call Southern California’s offense a juggernaut. Make that certainly fair. The Trojans have averaged more than 31 points per game since 2002, including a three-year run of 40+ points per game from 2002-2005. They have scored at least 20 points in 78 of their past 81 contests and at least 30 points 53 times in the last 71 games.
UVa safety Byron Glaspy said the complexity of USC’s offense is noticeable.
“I’d say they’re more sophisticated because they use a whole lot of different motions and a whole lot of different personnel groups that makes their offensive package have a lot of variety,” Glaspy said.
When asked to compare the sophistication to Gator Bowl opponent Texas Tech, Glaspy noted that the passing part of it is comparable but that the Trojans’ rushing attack “adds that extra dimension” to it because of how well they run the football. USC posted more than 200 yards rushing seven times last season, averaging 197.2 for the year.
Hat tip to Greg Waters on all those numbers. Want to read more from Greg on the Southern Cal offense? Check out The Sabre’s USC Scouting Report: Offense & Kicking article on the EDGE.
Dombrowski To Be Honored
Former Virginia offensive tackle Jim Dombrowski (1982-85) will be honored during Saturday’s game with USC. Dombrowski was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame earlier this year. A unanimous All-American in 1985, he helped lead the program to its first ever bowl berth and win in 1984 when the Hoos defeated Purdue in the Peach Bowl. Dombrowski won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy (ACC’s best blocker) twice in his career.
Fun With Numbers
- USC is 84-23-8 all-time in season openers, including 36 shutout victories. In road openers, the Trojans are 26-7-1.
- Virginia is 75-33-9 all-time in season openers, including 69-17-7 in season openers at home.
- USC has had 1 football letterman from Virginia. John Wilkins (Newport News High School) lettered as a left tackled in 1959-60.
- USC coach Pete Carroll has won 84.4% of his games in seven years, a record of 76-14.
- Virginia is playing its 2nd Pac-10 opponent ever and the first in 32 years. The Hoos lost at Washington in 1976, 38-17.
- While at UVa, Al Groh is 6-3 against former NFL head coaches.
“When you play the best, it brings out the best in you. Whatever it brings out of us, I think it will bring more out of our team and serve us better than if we had played Alaska State or somebody like that.” – Virginia’s Al Groh on the decision to play USC. (Editor’s note: No, there isn’t an “Alaska State” football team that I know of.)
- The pergola area at Scott Stadium now features the Legends Walk, which included plaques and busts to pay tribute to those individuals for their outstanding accomplishments to the Cavalier football program.
- Virginia is encouraging fans to arrive early to Saturday’s game in order to avoid long waits at the ticket gates. The first game of the year always has some things to work out in the entry process and you could experience back-ups if you do not arrive early.
- New “Voice of the Cavaliers” Dave Koehn confirmed with The Sabre this week that Frank Quayle and Tim Sherman are returning to their broadcast roles this season on the Virginia Sports Network. The official network-wide pregame show begins one hour before kickoff (2:30 p.m. this Saturday).
- ACC officials are scheduled for this week’s game with USC.
- UVA Bookstores, a long-time sponsor of The Sabre, is holding its weekly Pick ‘Em contest again this year. Enter this week’s contest!