According to coach Mike London, the Virginia football team could have a starting quarterback by early next week.
The Cavaliers will play their first scrimmage on Saturday. And London indicated before practice on Friday that a decision may be forthcoming, based on how sophomore David Watford in particular performs in that scrimmage.
"I'm quite sure that tomorrow will be that last little piece of an evaluation," London said. "To say, "You know what? Going into Monday, this is the direction we're going to go into." Because you look at it, we'll be less than three weeks from our first game."
The job has been Watford's to lose since before the Cavaliers opened camp on Monday. London revealed last month that Watford would enter the preseason No. 1 on the depth chart, ahead of redshirt freshman Greyson Lambert. He's spent the entire first week of practice running the first-team offense.
London acknowledged on Friday that Watford had his issues earlier this week, particularly dealing with the new attacking-style scheme of defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta. But London also said the sophomore's skill set is a good fit for new offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild's system.
"As he goes, being able to get the ball to some of our talented receivers or running backs, that'll make the offense go," London said. "And if you look, also, he can run the ball. So there's another skill set that he has, that's an added dimension for us."
Watford's been through these preseason quarterback competitions before. He worked his way into the No. 2 quarterback job behind Michael Rocco as a true freshman two years ago, and ended up appearing in 10 games. Last summer, he competed with Rocco and Phillip Sims before ultimately redshirting.
"I just feel more confident this camp," Watford said after practice on Friday. "And just understanding. I know Coach Fairchild has a lot of trust in me, and my guys have a lot of trust in me. And that's really helped my confidence. I feel great with the group of guys that we have, and I know we're going to do some great things. So I feel really good about this camp."
Watford also has the support of his teammates.
"Dave's looked good. He's looked good," said junior wide receiver Darius Jennings. "He just has a learning curve, with the rest of the offense. Just putting in new stuff."
"He's just kind of stepped up. He's more vocal, he's in control of the huddle. We're just feeding off him."
"Throwing the ball; making quick decisions. Obviously adding another element in the run game," said senior lineman Luke Bowanko. "And it's fun to watch him grow in confidence and ability. He's stepping into the role. And if that's the direction that Coach London wants to take on Monday, then I fully support it."
But Watford said he's not focusing on whether he'll be the starter when UVa kicks off the season on August 31 against BYU.
"I'm just out here working hard every day," he said. "I don't really think about the pressure of him naming a starter, or any of that stuff. I'm just out here trying to get better with my teammates."
"It really wouldn't mean anything, because I haven't proven anything on the field yet," Watford added. "But I'd just be thankful. And I'd be really humbled, and just ready to work and continue to get better."
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