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The new Virginia hire doesn't have a single quarterback who even attempted a pass last season, but says he expects the position to be a strength this fall.
Photo Courtesy of UVa
UVa offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild (center) works with the Cavaliers’ revamped offensive line during spring practice.
The Roanoke Times | File 2011
UVa offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild said David Watford (above) and Greyson Lambert will battle for the starting QB job.
The Roanoke Times | File 2012
UVa offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild said David Watford and Greyson Lambert (above) will battle for the starting QB job
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Some offensive coordinators might be apprehensive about going to summer camp without a quarterback who attempted a pass the previous year.
New Virginia offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild said he’s pleased with what he saw in the spring.
“Real pleased,” said Fairchild, who spent the 2013 season as an offensive assistant to San Diego Chargers’ head coach Norv Turner.
“I like our talent level at the spot. I like the worth ethic. We’re going to be a little inexperienced, but I think we can work through it. I think it’s going to be a real strong point for us.”
Virginia ended the 2012 season with a pair of underclassmen, Michael Rocco and Phillip Sims, who combined for 469 of UVa’s 474 pass attempts. Senior tailback Perry Jones threw four passes and a fifth was spiked in an effort to kill time.
Fairchild never had an opportunity to work with Rocco, who asked for his release one week after the season and subsequently transferred to Richmond.
Sims was listed third on the depth chart going into the spring and that’s where he remained until UVa announced in early June that he was academically ineligible.
Three UVa quarterbacks were redshirted last fall — David Watford, a sophomore who had backed up Rocco in 2011, and freshmen Greyson Lambert and Matt Johns.
“David and Greyson are going to battle it out [for the starters’ job] in fall camp,” Fairchild said. “We’ll get Matt Johns going a little bit. He had mono in the spring. But, again, I like all three guys.
“I like the way they work. I like their want-to. We’re going to be fine.”
A fourth scholarship quarterback, signee Brendan Marshall, will join them in the fall. A second 2013 UVa quarterback signee, Corwin Cutler, is headed to Fork Union Military Academy.
“I’d like to bring in one a year,” Fairchild said. “You try to have four on scholarship. There’s occasionally attrition at that spot, but you hate to void a class. It’s a developmental position, so it’s really one you can’t neglect.”
Fairchild is one of three new offensive coaches who have been head coaches at the Division I level. Associate head coach Tom O’Brien was the head coach at North Carolina State last year and running backs coach Larry Lewis previously was the head coach at Idaho.
Fairchild “is leaning” toward calling plays from the press box and expects O’Brien to join him upstairs.
“Tom’s got a good eye and has coached the offensive line,” Fairchild said. “That would seem to be the way to go but we haven’t finalized it.”
Virginia’s post-spring roster revealed a reshuffled offensive line that includes senior Morgan Moses at left tackle, senior Luke Bowanko at left guard, redshirt freshman Jackson Matteo at center, senior Sean Cascarano at right guard and sophomore Jay Whitmire at right tackle.
Since then, questions have been raised about the availability of Cascarano, who has a hip issue.
“We’ll see what happens [with Cascarano] in August,” Fairchild said. “Our big thing in the spring was getting the best five guys out there regardless of position, so we juggled some guys around.
“We’ve got to develop our sixth, seventh and eighth guy. You know you’re going to get playing down to your sixth and seventh guy. Coming out of the spring, we weren’t ready at those spots.”
The Cavaliers have a veteran running back in Kevin Parks, a 5-foot-8, 205-pound junior who has rushed for more than 1,400 yards over the past two seasons despite starting only two games.
“He loves to play, loves to practice,” Fairchild said. “He’s a real physical kid with a nice center of gravity. I like everything about him.”
Parks said in an interview last week that Fairchild has stressed the need to be physical.
On the other hand, what offensive coordinator doesn’t want to be physical?
“I wasn’t here last year,” Fairchild said, “so, there’s nothing to compare it to. But, we know at some point in every game, we’ll have to be able to run the football, so we’re trying to make a big deal out of that.”
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