Quarterback still a 3-way race at Virginia

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 3, 2014 at 4:11 pm •  Published: April 3, 2014

Mike London and his Virginia coaching staff are facing a familiar problem during spring practice.

The Cavaliers are giving repetitions to three quarterbacks, and still hoping one emerges as a clear winner in the fight to be the starter. London said that David Watford, Greyson Lambert and Matt Johns all have made significant strides from last season and the competition will go as long as it needs to go.

"It's been very competitive, very spirited," London said, while acknowledging that Watford, who started all 12 games last season, and Lambert, who played in seven games, have a leg up because of experience.

Johns has been on the field, too, but only as a holder on field goals and extra points.

The Cavaliers finished just 2-10 last season, leading to wide speculation that this could be a make-or-break season for London, who is 18-31 in four seasons and has won just eight of 32 games in the ACC.

The need to turn that around isn't lost on the team, London said.

"What's different about this team, this group right now, is that guys are saying, 'Where can I play? Where can I help? What can I do?' That's an attitude that's different, and it's welcome, it's needed, because everyone knows we have to perform and play better," he said. "When it comes from the players about 'What can I do? What role can I take?' You can make significant steps that way."

Watford seemed to make minimal progress last season, when he completed just 57 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and 15 interceptions, and the running element he was expected to bring never really materialized. He ran for just 208 yards on 104 carries, and his longest run was for 27 yards.

Since last season, though, he paid his own way to spend time in California working on mechanics and footwork with quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr., whose list of former pupils includes Heisman Trophy winners Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and Johnny Manziel. London said Whitfield was complimentary of the junior's progress, and said Lambert and Johns have "raised their football IQ" through intensive film and formations study.