Spring Football 2004 Preview: The QB Battle Begins

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He was among the best at his position in Virginia football history. He was known for his accuracy, his reliability,
his intelligence and his toughness. He played last season as a graduate student, but now he’s gone. Which is why the
big question going into UVa’s spring practice is this: Who will replace Ryan Childress as long snapper?

Also, who will replace Matt Schaub as quarterback?

OK, for most fans, the second question may be a little more interesting. No doubt it will be the major subject of
conversation and speculation throughout the three weeks of spring practice, beginning today and culminating in the April
17 Cavalier Football Festival (or whatever they’re calling it this year).

That’s no wonder, given the importance of the quarterback position and the relative stability of the team at other
spots, with the notable exceptions of defensive back and punter. Who’s gonna take the snaps next season? And who will
back up the starter? Four QB candidates will get to make their case this spring. The competition is likely to last into
the fall (and maybe beyond), but here is a look at how things are shaping up at each position as the 2004 Cavaliers
spring forth…


Marques Hagans has to be the frontrunner going into the spring. After all, the sophomore has more experience than the
other three candidates. He looked good in his lone start last season, throwing three touchdown passes against Western
Michigan. He has shown speed, shiftiness, poise and toughness. And as UVa coach Al Groh says, “He’s demonstrated
that he’s a playmaker.”

However, most of the big plays Hagans made last season were at a different position: wide receiver. He has yet to
prove himself as a quarterback (unless you think Western Michigan’s defense is as good as Florida State’s) and there
are still plenty of people who doubt he can be an effective full-time QB at 5-10 (his listed height, though he seems a
bit shorter than that). After Schaub returned from his injury last season, Hagans played very little at quarterback and
was not productive in his short stints. To his credit, he knows he can’t rely on his athletic ability to be a good
quarterback, like he did at Hampton High and Fork Union