CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — There are 139 days until Virginia kicks off its 2012 football season against Richmond, and the Cavaliers’ secondary is going to want every last one of them.
“I thought the receivers were getting open all day,” defensive coordinator Jim Reid said. “We had some good plays, but we had some where you could see, our secondary has a long way to go.”
Things weren’t all negative at U.Va.’s spring game, though. All three quarterbacks — Michael Rocco, David Watford and Greyson Lambert — turned in solid outings, and the running game looks every bit as potent as it was in 2011, in large part because virtually the entire unit has returned.
Rocco picked up 194 yards to lead all passers, though Watford took over for him to lead a final game-winning drive for the Orange team. That group, consisting of offensive starters and defensive backups, prevailed 20-17. It was the Wahoos’ final practice until August.
“To finish up where we finished up, I’m happy about the improvement made,” coach Mike London said. “We still have a ways to go, but going into August, I’m much more confident than in the past two springs.”
A crowd estimated at 8,500 took in the game, which lasted about 2 hours. The initial plans called for a running clock in the second half, but London played all four 8-minute quarters under standard football rules.
After the game, the 2012 captains were announced: Running back Perry Jones, offensive lineman Oday Aboushi, linebacker LaRoy Reynolds and defensive tackle Will Hill. All are seniors.
During the game, there were signs of the youth that will characterize the upcoming season. No kicker has stepped up to seize the job, and punt returns remain an issue. Offensively, three different players snapped the ball, with all of them having at least one miscue.
Wide receiver remains a question mark, with Miles Gooch, Dominique Terrell and Darius Jennings providing loads of athleticism and speed, but their catching ability remains unproven.
That wasn’t much of an issue on Saturday, as the secondary left Rocco with a wide-open option several times.
The inexperienced group is reminiscent of the 2010 season, a replay of which Reid hopes to avoid.
“I saw us making some real good calls, then we didn’t execute them,” the coordinator said. “Our assignment as coaches is to get them to play a year ahead of what they really are. We have to turn out an experienced secondary, even though they’re not experienced, by the first game.”
The ‘Hoos have a challenging schedule lined up in 2012, and will have to mature quickly. Reynolds and the captains will have to coach up the younger players over the summer, a challenge they embrace.
“We’re going to be on the same page when the games roll around,” he said.
Saturday’s game had flashes of a team that could make some noise in ACC play, as well as inconsistencies that could make for a long season. The next four-and-a-half months will determine which team suits up on Sept. 1.
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