The Sunday Sampler 2011 – Duke

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Michael Rocco continued his solid play with 2 TDs and 0 INTs against Duke.

The 2011 season got off to an unsteady start in some ways for Virginia quarterback Michael Rocco. He helped his team win the first two games against William & Mary and Indiana, but the Hoos stumbled with two losses to North Carolina and Southern Miss in September. In those four games, Rocco threw just 1 touchdown pass with 8 interceptions.

While the statistics were shaky, however, Rocco was not shaken. The Cavaliers have won five of their last six games, including this weekend’s 31-21 victory against Duke. In those six games, Rocco has tossed 9 touchdown passes and just 2 interceptions.

“I really can’t explain it. I’m a confident guy so coming out, it’s not my confidence. I really prepare the same every week. I’ve got a preparation [to do] day to day,” Rocco said Saturday. “It’s just our team is really playing well right now in all aspects of the game. I attribute it to my teammates and rallying around me, getting the job done, and making plays for me.”

The only blemish during this successful stretch came in a 28-14 loss to NC State, a disappointing and frustrating setback where Rocco started well with a touchdown pass but struggled mightily in the second half. At the time, Rocco had been called to the sidelines in games for some series with true freshman David Watford taking the reins. The two quarterback system seemed to create periodic rhythm issues for the offense in several games and something clearly didn’t click in the Wolfpack loss as Virginia mustered just 249 total yards of offense.

After that game, Virginia coach Mike London announced a change in the substitution plan for the quarterback position. Instead of getting some series for Watford, the offense would only slide the freshman QB into games for situational plays. Rocco, meanwhile, remained the starter and would lead all of the series. The change has produced some efficient performances from Rocco, who has made better decisions on things like checkdown passes and throwing the ball away to