Through the first month of the season, Navy (1-3) and Virginia (2-3) are not off to the starts they wanted, and the focus has fallen on their junior quarterbacks. On Monday, Midshipmen coach Ken Niumatalolo stood by Trey Miller, while in Charlottesville, Cavaliers coach Mike London was noncommittal on starter Michael Rocco.
At Navy, the quarterback is the engine that drives the triple-option offense. But Miller has been low on fuel, committing 10 turnovers and rushing 69 times for 181 yards. The Mids' brain trust isn't sure how much of it is on Miller and how much of it is on an inexperienced line.
"Trey's gonna be our quarterback. I have faith in Trey," Niumatalolo said. "He could have played better, but I have faith he can get it done."
Freshman backup Keenan Reynolds has played well in relief. But preventing a switch is his inexperience. Unlike many Navy players, Reynolds doesn't have the benefit of a season at the Naval Academy Prep School. Starting him Saturday at rival Air Force (2-2) would be chancy.
Virginia has a different problem. Its backup, high-profile transfer Phillip Sims, has outperformed Rocco, throwing five touchdowns and no interceptions the last three weeks. After Rocco threw his eighth pick last week, which was returned for a touchdown, Sims led a rally that fell short in a 44-38 loss to Louisiana Tech.
At Duke (4-1) on Saturday, Virginia may get to see what Sims can do as a starter.
- Kevin Dunleavy