They have worked all offseason to show Mike London & Company what they can do. On Saturday, they will show the world what they have learned.
By the power of the internet, the Hoos will have their spring game broadcast around the world for all discerning eyes to see. If you are an avid fan, but was unable to head up to C’Ville for one of the practices or one of the three ‘traveling’ practices, this will be the first look at Virginia Football since just before the stroke of midnight on New Years. We have been talking about the individual performances of the players throughout these early practices. Now it’s time to put it all together and look at the matchups to watch for this Saturday. They will split the team up later this week into an Orange team and a Blue Team, but the matchups we will be looking for are positional.
Spring Practice Format
If this is your first radio, head over to VirginiaSports.com to learn about how to get in on ‘gameday’. If not, here is a quick rundown of activities.
- Gates open at noon for a fan fest where you can find a bunch of stuff to buy and get autographs from the returning UVa starters. This will wrap up around 1:15pm.
- At 1:45pm, they will have a short practice session, similar to what most people have seen in the open events this season.
- Shortly after 2 pm, they Hoos will play an Orange-Blue Scrimmage consisting of 4 8 minute quarters. This will be on ESPN3 for your viewing pleasure starting at 2:15pm.
- At the conclusion of the game, they will name the captains for the 2012-2013 season and the spring award winners.
Matchups To Watch For
QB Mike Rocco vs. QB Greyson Lambert
It’s the incumbent against the rookie. We have been talking about the natural ability of Lambert all off season, but this will be his first time in front of non-high school cameras. We know what Rocco can and can not do, and nothing has really changed thus far in practices. It is all but a forgone conclusion that Rocco will start come the Richmond game (which will just add another layer to the in-state game), but Greyson is not going to sit by idly by. I really believe that if he was here last year, we would be talking about those two pushing for the starting job. And to really get you going, I think next year, we will have that discussion on who will start the 2013 season.
RBs Perry Jones, Kevin Parks, Clifton Richardson vs. RB Khalek Shepherd
Nothing like a man against the world scenario. Both London and Lazor recognize his ability out of the backfield, and are franticly working on some situations and plays to get him in the game. One quick way for him to see the field more often is to unseat one of the three backs used exclusively last year. I would gander that Jones and KP are safe, but unless Clifton can be used out of the backfield in the passing game, look for Shepherd (who is more like Jones) to get some 2nd and 3rd down looks this year.
WRs Darius Jennings, Dom Terrell vs. WR Miles Gooch
Let the 2nd years battle it out. Tim Smith is pretty much a lock for one side and Jennings and Terrell have an edge on the next two slots. But all three are smaller speed guys. Until Caanan Severin gets here in the fall, only Miles Gooch has emerged as the taller route runner in the intermediate game so far. The combination of size, hands, and route running have been turning heads in practice. Couple that with Rocco’s love for that short-to-intermediate passing game and the loss of Snyder and Burd to graduation, they need some diversity in the receiving core. He was behind the 8 ball moving from QB to WR last year, but could easily take some time on that second unit away from either DJ or DT, and could even see time in the 3 WR sets this year.
TE Jeremiah Mathis vs. TE Jake McGee
UVa used to be Tight End U for a long time, but the past 3 season have seen them trade off using the ends as run blockers instead of in the passing game. Phillips and Freedman will see the field, especially in those blocking sets, but Mathis and McGee have emerged as very good, very big targets for Rocco. One play they have been using a lot in spring practices has been the quick out pass to the tight end, and both have made some nice gains on those sets. As MR6 and Lazor try and expand the playbook, this would be one way to do it and 2 players that could help.
DT Chris Brathwaite vs. DT Will Hill vs. DT Justin Renfrow
With the defensive end battle to really get going in the fall, the tackle position has really started to sort out. Will Hill is the only returning “rotation” starter from last year, but Brathwaite and Renfrow have been really disrupting the Hoos offenses this practice season. So much so that unless players like David Dean or Vincent Croce really step it up, the 3 man rotation could be set before the summer winds come.
LB Everybody vs. LB Everybody Else
With Greer siting out after off-season surgery and Aaron graduating, it is a chance for a lot of new names to get in the mix on this thin backer crew. Names like Tucker Windle, Henry Coley, Caleb Taylor, and D.J. Hill have all seen time at various ‘team’ units this spring. In the Spring Game, they will all be mixed up and will have a chance to show what they can do, especially since the line will be mixed up as well and more weight will be place on the second rowers.
CB Drequan Hoskey vs. CB Brandon Phelps
Very interesting battle. Phelps came in last year with a lot of hype, just like Nicholson, but did not see the field as much. Hoskey was a walk on and redshirted in 2010, but played every game last year and is climbing up the depth chart this spring. Now in most people’s eyes it is Hoskey’s job to lose, but if Phelps can show that 4* ability in his second year, it might be a tough call to make.