Rocco on QB Job: "I Believe It's Mine to Lose"

Last year, Mike London enjoyed his first winning season as head football coach at Virginia. Now he's ready to start working toward another one.

"The mindset is you just can't be satisfied for what just happened," London said Friday at the Cavaliers' annual media day. "You've got to hunger for more. We've got to start all over again. That's our approach."

Virginia ended the 2011 season at 8-5, after a 43-24 loss to Auburn in the Chik-fil-A Bowl. It was the first time the program finished with a winning record and reached a bowl game since the 2007 season.

The Cavaliers return five starters on defense in 2012, and seven starters on offense -- although junior quarterback Michael Rocco will be challenged in camp by Alabama transfer Phillip Sims.

"I really believe it's my job to lose, and I'm not going to lose it," Rocco told reporters at media day. "My teammates believe in me, and my coaching staff believes in me. And I've been there before."

Rocco started all 13 games for Virginia last year after winning a four-man competition for the job. David Watford, now a true sophomore, rotated with Rocco for the first half of 2011, then settled in as the Cavaliers' back-up.

"Thank goodness for the maturity level that both of them have," London said of Rocco and Watford. "They just said, "Hey, listen. If Phillip's going to make us better, then we welcome him.""

Virginia's eight-win season in 2011 came after the Cavaliers were picked to finish fourth in the ACC's Coastal Division in last year's preseason poll. Despite the team's success last year, the Cavaliers were again picked to finish fourth in the division in this year's ACC poll.

"You just sit back. You chuckle at it, and you just take the seat that they give you," junior offensive tackle Morgan Moses said. "And when it's time for you, time for us to shine, you just surprise them. You shock them."

"We kind of embrace the underdog role. I like that," said senior linebacker Steve Greer. "We played that all of last season. I think as long as we have inner team belief, and guys understand what we can do, and we believe in each other, that's all we need."

"One thing we want to make sure is that people don't think it's a fluke," junior defensive end Jake Snyder said. "That does come from hard work, and that's what we have to prove this year again. And we're going to continue to win close games like that because of our training, and how hard we've worked."

The Cavaliers open the 2012 season at home on Sept. 1 against Richmond.

"We've got a bunch of great leaders on this team who want to get back there," said Rocco. "We know we can do it. We know we have the playmakers to do it, and the coaches to do it. So we're excited, and we just want to get started."

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