CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.--- The first week of open practice is over for the Cavaliers, but the work towards the season has just begun.
It would be relatively monotonous to break down the last week as an onlooker of the Virginia program- you’ve got your position rotations, new plays to be taught and plenty of Wahoo excitement over the new indoor facility visible from the outdoor practice field. Sorry to say, it’s been done before. Instead, I spoke with 6’ 6” captain and senior left tackle Oday Aboushi on the last week and future for the Cavs.
As a leader and third year starter on the team, Aboushi has been focusing on the incoming freshmen, bringing them up to not only the collegiate level but also towards the ACC title.
“We as captains set up times with out position groups a few times a week. We would go through film study as well as on the field drills,” said Aboushi.
Of course, the quarterback position at UVa has become no stranger to attention. Knowing that junior and current starter Michael Rocco, sophomore transfer Phillip Sims and sophomore David Watford have all been competing for the coveted spot, Aboushi spoke about the continuous yet positive rotation. “Rocco has been a leader to Sims and Watford everyday in practice. All three of them are great quarterbacks, and you can see steady improvement everyday which is all we can ask for.”
Rocco, a junior, played well for Virginia during the 2011 season leading the Cavaliers to an 8-5 record while throwing for 2,671 yards on 60.7% passing. “I believe that I'm the starting quarterback and the leader of this team,” said Rocco, according to a recent interview with CBS Sports. “So, when [Sims] came in, it just kind of fueled me even more to be a competitor and win the job outright.”
The eager competition between all three players is exactly what head coach Mike London and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor need in training.
"Next week, we'll load them up," London said according to the Richmond Times Dispatch. "We've got to start moving in the direction of getting guys ready to play soon."
But the starting quarterback isn’t the only position of contention. The Cavaliers' search for a kicker continues as well as a starting cornerback, according to the Richmond Times Dispatch.
Saturday's practice was moved to Scott Stadium, a slightly larger and more exciting venue. The emphasis was on special teams, and a sizable portion was dedicated to field goals in the stadium environment. Senior Drew Jarrett and redshirt freshman Ian Frye each converted two of their three kicks from 50 yards and beyond.
Sophomore Drequan Hoskey came into the season as the preferred player for the cornerback spot opposite Demetrious Nicholson. He's also been pressed by a true freshman Maurice Canady, who was dropped in with the first-team defense in Saturday's workouts.
The man-to-man competition seems to suit Virginia well, claimed Aboushi. “I've noticed a major increase in everyone's maturity. Everyone is taking bigger steps to elevate their game whether it's spending more time in the weight room or in the play book.”
With game time less than twenty days away, the Cavaliers are on track to take on the Richmond Spiders at home on September 1st. Though the University of Richmond is a non-conference contender and has been a comfortable win in years past, Aboushi remained concentrated on the current roster and season.
“U of R has a good team this year, and they shouldn't be taken lightly,” said Aboushi. “The team needs to treat them as a high caliber team, and we need to continue to put in the time and preparation to beat them come September 1st.”
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