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Virginia’s starter at QB against Idaho up in the air

- - Monday, September 26, 2011

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Virginia's quarterback situation remains unclear after coach Mike London's Monday press conference, and that clarity may not be forthcoming until kickoff on Saturday.

The Cavaliers take on Idaho in a non-conference game, meaning that the team is not required to issue any injury information.

Starting quarterback Michael Rocco took a hit to the ribs while throwing an interception in the seconds before halftime in Saturday's 30-24 loss to Southern Mississippi, and after opening the third quarter with his third interception, the sophomore was pulled in favor of true freshman David Watford.

Earlier in the season, London had said that sophomore Ross Metheny would back up Rocco, but deviated from that Saturday, saying that he was more comfortable with Watford since he had already played in the game.

On Monday, London said he was unable to update Rocco's injury because it was a day off for the players, but that evaluation would take place at today's practice. Despite Rocco's insistence after the game that he was fine, the injury may turn out to be severe enough to keep him sidelined on Saturday.

If he is, he'll have two weeks to rest, as Virginia goes into its bye week after facing the Vandals, who are 17-point underdogs.

London wouldn't commit to either Watford or Metheny as the starter in that situation, saying only that if Rocco is healthy, "he'll take the first snap in the game."

Watford handled everything that was thrown at him on Saturday, including starting his first series from the 1-yard line after a successful Southern Miss punt.

He had been scheduled to enter on the game's fourth drive, and London said that he chose not to shy away from putting him in based on field position.

"I think that what happens is sometimes as coaches you get a little bit reluctant about putting a guy in depending on where the ball is, or you don't want to put him in because it's the red zone, or for all those reasons," he said. "Sometimes you've just got to say all right, the guy is going in at this point."

Watford struggled to gain momentum until a fourth-quarter drive that put the Wahoos back in the game. He then began another drive in the final seconds that ended with a dropped fourth-down pass.

It was enough for the Hampton native to develop some buzz in Charlottesville.

He had previously been used exclusively as a change-of-pace quarterback. Now he enters the week as the potential starter for the first time in his career, though the only people who know the lineup for sure are in the program, and they're not talking.

Note: Former Virginia player and current radio analyst Corey Alexander has joined the Hampden-Sydney basketball staff as an assistant coach for the season. Alexander had a 10-year career in the NBA after leaving the Cavaliers. The details are still being worked out as to whether Alexander will continue his radio work, a door that has not closed.

• Read Michael Phillips' U.Va. blog at timesdispatch.com