The Washington Times - October 4, 2008, 09:25AM

A little emptying of the notebook before hitting the road…

Virginia quarterback Marc Verica isn’t in the most enviable position. If things had gone well in Charlottesville, he’d probably be the Cavaliers’ No. 3 quarterback right now.


But things did not go well. Jameel Sewell did not meet Virginia’s academic standards. Peter Lalich tested the “You booze, you lose” provisions of his probation and paid the price by getting booted from the program.

And it’s left Verica, a redshirt sophomore who had not taken a college snap before this season, to face some on-the-job training.

“Marc’s looked good at spurts,” linebacker Clint Sintim said. “He’s made some really nice throws and he’s able to get out of the pocket with elusiveness and things like that. He’s continuing to get better. Marc is very diligent in his preparation. He’s a very capable quarterback.”

But he’s going to have a few of those wrong-side-of-the-learning-curve days. One of them was last week, when he threw four interceptions in a 31-3 loss at Duke.

At this point, the Cavaliers don’t have much of a choice but to tolerate it. His backup, fifth-year senior Scott Deke, had never thrown a pass in a college game until a few weeks ago. From the sounds of things this week, coach Al Groh is in no rush to throw true freshman Riko Smalls into the mix.

So that leaves Verica to preside over an offense with a crumbling line, injuries to top-two options at tailback (Cedric Peerman) and fullback (Keith Payne) and an inability to run the ball consistently.

Maybe Verica will be good down the road for the Cavaliers. Maybe not. But seeing progress from him would be welcome for Virginia, if only to provide a welcome distraction from so many other things going wrong.

“He’s made a few mistakes,” wideout Kevin Ogletree said. “Not many. I guess you could expect it from a guy who [hasn’t played much]. We know that and he’s doing a lot of things better. It’s exciting to see his development.”

—- Patrick Stevens