Highlights from spring football in Charlottesville…
Vic Hall under center
Hall will work “will work at quarterback exclusively” during the spring according to HC Al Groh, and will be “the first person up” at the position where three returnees (Hall, Jameel Sewell, and Marc Verica) have all started games. Groh says Verica will come in second, as he is “the next person who started at quarterback here.” Not that Groh wouldn’t state something like that without a caveat… “as with all positions, that will change with competition over 15 days of practices.
Even if Hall does not play another down at corner (where he has “plenty of background”), new secondary coach Anthony Poindexter has four other players who have started at that position: Chris Cook, Chase Minnifield, Mike Parker, and Ras-I Dowling. Cook, who along with Sewell served an academic suspension last season, will start on the second team but was “one of our better players two seasons ago” according to Groh. Rodney McLeod – the Bill Dudley Award recipient as last season’s most outstanding first-year player – has been moved to safety, where he will likely team with fellow sophomore Corey Mosley – who was recently found not guilty of misdemeanor charges stemming from an incident at a Student Activities Building dance in February.
Teams can’t get worse
In pointing out the obvious and/or taking a shot at the departed Bob Diaco, Groh stated this month that “the area where our team can make the greatest leap forward is with special teams.” Ron Prince inherits a unit that Virginia finsihed 92nd nationally in punt returns and 70th in kickoff returns. Placekicker will feature a familiar battle as former soccer player Yannick Reyering (6-11 last season), former walk-on Robert Randolph (3-4) and former Chris Gould heir apparent Chris Hinkebein (briefly handled kickoffs).
Next in line on the line
With Eugene Monroe set to join former Cavs D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Branden Albert, Brad Butler, and Elton Brown in the NFL, Landon Bradley will step into the left tackle role as a redshirt sophomore with only one game of experience. Bradley, who doesn’t “feel like [he’s] so far behind Eugene,” will join four returning starters in RT Will Barker, RG BJ Cabbell (sitting out the spring recovering from knee surgery), C Jack Shields, and LG Austin Pasztor.
Andrew Devlin has been moved from TE to DE and may have a shot at the starting spot vacated by Alex Field. Groh says Devlin “grew out of tight end,” weighs “267 now and will be 275 before you know it,” and wasn’t moved “”not to play him.” Still, one has to wonder if the switch to new OC Greggg Brandon’s spread offense had anything to do with it. Devlin appeared to be a promising backup to John Phillips last season, and Brandon stated upon being hired that he would “play the best players. If the tight ends are some of our best players, then we’ll find a place for them. At Bowling Green, we used a tight end quite a bit when we had one that’s a pretty good player.”
Speaking of the new offense, The Roanoke Times’ Doug Doughty relayed from Groh that after watching film of last season Brandon “said we were efficient, but efficiency doesn’t always translate into touchdowns. You need explosiveness.” If 300 yards/game (105th nationally in total offense) is efficient, Groh and Brandon might want to beware of real-estate agents pitching acreage. If Virginia really was efficient last year and just couldn’t score, there might have been a larger gap between their scoring offense ranking (114) and their total offense ranking (105).
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