The most recent storyline to surface in advance of Saturday’s 90th meeting between Virginia and Virginia Tech revolve around the Cavalier quarterback position.
Once again, there is speculation that Vic Hall may finally get a chance to play under center at the college level. As most know, Hall was a SuperPrep All-American QB whose number was recently retired at Gretna, where he won all 28 games and two state titles his junior & senior seasons while compiling nearly 14,000 total yards over his career – tops in Virginia and 5th nationally all-time.
Early into his tenure in Charlottesville, Hall was moved to CB, but said in 2006 “I still have a desire to play quarterback. I’m not giving that up. Just right now, I can help the team most at cornerback, so that’s what I’m doing.” He played sparingly in the defensive backfield as a redshirt freshman, and speculation about a return to QB continued. The Roanoke Times’ Doug Doughty prodded “Cavs shouldn’t forget about Vic Hall” early in the year after poor play at the position, but then reported “Groh says Hall not an option at QB for UVa” after the head man said Hall’s role as scout team QB meant nothing.
Hall entered 2007 as not only a starting CB, but also the team’s holder and punt returner. At the time, he toed the company line, which was – in HC Al Groh’s words: “The only people who have ever talked about [Hall playing QB] are people other than Vic. And that is why he is such a great kid and such a great team member. There is no personal agenda with him; there is no ego.” Then-DC Mike London added: “He’s never complained about anything… He’ll play anywhere.”
Hall is now a team captain with 24 consecutive starts under his belt. He has played mostly average corner, coming up on the wrong end of notable opponent scores – VPI last year & Miami this year among many. His penchant for turnovers in 2008, however, has been a positive. Witness win-clinching INTs against Richmond (returned 60 yards for a TD) & Georgia Tech, multiple forced fumbles punched our from behind, and a fumble recovery last week against Clemson.
As a punt returner, his per-return average is a mediocre 6 yards to date, down from 10 last year when he had returns of 45 & 67 yards. 2007 saw Hall run for a score from his holder spot (a role now assumed by Scott Deke) against Pitt and complete a 35-yard pass against UConn after lining up at running back. This season has seen no suck offensive imagination, at least not yet…
Two months ago, Aaron McFarling of the Roanoke Times asked “Where’s Vic Hall?” and took shots at the too-short-to-see-over-the-line, low-level-of-competition-in-high-school, and not-a-Mike-Groh-recruit theories. At the time, the column came across as too little too late. Perhaps even sour grapes, simply a SWVA fan pining for – in McFarling’s words – “one of the greatest ‘what ifs’ ever to play football in this state” ?
But just this week, the Thanksgiving day edition of The Daily Progress reported that Hall already is Virginia’s #3 / emergency QB. He practiced under center in “some basic offensive sets” in preparation for the UConn game, after Peter Lalich’s dismissal left no clear third option behind starter Marc Verica and 5th-year senior Deke. Groh commented this week that “if there was ever a circumstance in the previous games where we have been down to the third quarterback, he probably could have gone in and run two or three plays.” Groh also added that any plays out of the flavor-of-the-month “Wildcat” formation were removed from the playbook after RB Mikell Simpson’s season-ending injury. Simpson was “very well suited for it” and “the guy who was in our thoughts for it.”
For his part, Doughty “wouldn’t be surprised to see Hall line up on offense,” but doesn’t see Hall “impacting the game with his arm.” He notes that Groh “may not feel he can sacrifice Hall at cornerback” and all along has been “unfailing in his praise of Hall, almost to the point of going overboard,” perhaps as if to validate “the decision not to play Hall” at quarterback.” Groh, after all, has “never shown an eagerness to admit, ‘I was wrong.’”