July 6, 2009

Fight Card: Quarterbacks

First off, I'd like to give a special nod to JHoo for his excellent "Summer Reading" series on The Sabre, and also to Chris Wallace and Jamie Oakes for their outstanding "Countdown to Camp" series on Cavs Corner. If you're looking for a broad overview of each position group coupled with some great analysis, those two series can't be beat... especially if you're reading them together as complementary works.

With my position-by-position fight cards here on Wahooze, I'm not trying to rehash what JHoo, Jamie, and Chris have already floated out into cyberspace. Instead, I'm trying to give you one fan's view, including all the bias and braggadocio I've accumulated along the way. At times my take will be complementary to "Summer Reading" and "Countdown to Camp," and at times it will be contradictory.

Now let's get into it.

Fight Card: Quarterbacks

The Main Event...

Vic Hall (Sr.) -- He showed us what he could do in the 2008 Tech game... but he didn't throw a single pass in the game. How good is he as a passer? We have no idea at this point. The fact that he's lining up as a QB for the 2009 season is a testament to his ability and also to Al Groh's level of desperation. (For what it's worth, I still think slotting this kid at cornerback was one of Groh's most damning mistakes of this decade.) We know Vic Hall has serious wheels, so if he's even mediocre as a passer, he'd be tough not to start at QB.

Jameel Sewell (Sr.) -- He's back after a year-long suspension for flunking out of school. He did all the right things to make it back onto the field, and I appreciate that. That being said, I have a few issues with Sewell: 1) How in the HELL does your starting QB flunk out of school? Way to be a team player, buddy. And if laziness wasn't the problem, how can we justify having a dumbass playing the QB position? 2) Sewell has never been an accurate passer, and the Gregg Brandon spread offense calls for quick, accurate passes. 3) Maybe it was bad luck, but Sewell missed a lot of clutch, 4th quarter situations due to ticky-tack injuries two years ago. The Virginia Tech and Texas Tech games immediately come to mind. Maybe I'm way off base, but I have to question the guy's toughness. (Even though he did lead us to many gutty nailbiter-type wins that season.) 4) He's been away from football for an entire year. Rust has to be a factor here. I don't mean to dog Sewell too badly, but I think he's far from a sure thing as our starting QB.

The Undercard...

Marc Verica (Jr.) -- Let's be direct here. He never should have seen the field in 2008. He wasn't ready to play, and he didn't have the proper supporting cast to be able to succeed when he did play. That being said, I actually think that Verica did a nice job for the most part last season. He's good in the pocket, and great at throwing to a spot. He gets himself into trouble trying to rifle passes through tight windows, but that's no different than what we've seen out of Jameel Sewell in the past. He threw a lot of interceptions last year, but I honestly think Verica has earned his fair shot to start this season. He deserves a fair shot, but I'm not confident that he'll get it. Turnovers tend to put players in Al Groh's doghouse, and once you're in that kennel, it's very difficult to escape. {Cue Bad Newz Kennels joke here.}

Riko Smalls (RS Fr.) -- I loved what I saw from Riko in the Spring Game. He reminded me of Marques Hagans, but with a quicker, more compact delivery, better accuracy, and a touch more size to almost be able to see over the line. I think this guy is a great fit in the spread, and the change of offense conceivably puts him on a level playing field with Hall, Sewell, and Verica. But we all know how much Al Groh (dis)likes to start young QBs, so Smalls will probably need to wait patiently for his turn, which might come as soon as the 2010 season.

And the Winner is... The Vic Hall / Jameel Sewell Two-Headed Monster

Based on what I think I know about Al Groh and Gregg Brandon and Gregg Brandon's offense, Vic Hall will get the first crack under center, and should start the William & Mary game. But Jameel Sewell didn't go to PVCC and work so hard to make it back in order to ride the pine as a senior. I think we're looking at a true timeshare, with Marc Verica being the odd man out. Due to the fact that Hall and Sewell are both better runners than passers, I'm almost certain that our 2009 version of the spread offense will look more like RichRod's run-first West Virginia version than the Kansas or Texas Tech air circus versions. I like our would-be two-headed monster at QB... as long as we don't need to generate explosive plays in the downfield passing game in order to win games. Hopefully Vic Hall can prove me wrong and can chuck it with the best of 'em, but I'll be skeptical until I see it. The good news is that Brandon excels at catering his offense to his team's strengths, so two scramblers at QB should give him two versatile weapons to unleash upon defenses.

Wahooze-Style Fearless Prediction...

We run a two-QB system, but by the end of the season it becomes very clear that Vic Hall is our best option at quarterback... especially since he leads the team in rushing. That's right, I predict that Vic Hall will lead the Hoos in rushing yardage in 2009. No offense to Mikell Simpson, Torrey Mack, or any of the other halfbacks on the roster, but I think the runners will be splitting carries pretty evenly and getting a lot of their "carries" via short passes. Meanwhile, Vic Hall (if he plays like he did at Tech last November) should be able to rip off some big gains on scrambles around the edge and in the read option. It's just a hunch, but I think we'll see Vic get up to somewhere around 700/800 rushing yards this season, which will add a very interesting element to our new offense. (Consider: Pat White averaged 1000+ yards per season while operating out of WVU's run-first spread. Now, I don't think Vic Hall is in the same stratosphere with Pat White, but they do offer very similar athletic characteristics. I think Vic Hall will be running the ball A LOT, and I think that will be a very good thing for the Virginia offense.)

Position Grade: C+/B-
I think we'll get slightly above-average play from the quarterbacks this season, based largely on this group's running ability and relative experience level. It won't be a strength of the team, but QB play won't damn us either.

Coming soon...
The linebackers!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Kendall,
    I think you're right on, I just hope we don't spend too much time this season watching these guys run around like headless chickens only to gain one yard. I'd LOVE to have a double-threat behind center, hopefully one of these guys will be able to provide that by mid-season