Freshman quarterback David Watford arrived at Virginia from Hampton High in January renowned more as a runner than passer. His Cavaliers debut contradicted that evaluation.
Used in spot duty in place of starter Michael Rocco, Watford completed 3-of-5 passes for 46 yards in Virginia’s 40-3 season-opening rout of William and Mary. He ran four times for minus-7 yards.
“I was excited to get David his first plays,” offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said. “I’d be dishonest if I said I knew exactly how it would go because you have a true freshman out there. Luckily he was here in the spring. You probably didn’t see all of his running ability today. You saw a little bit of his passing ability and you shouldn’t downplay his ability to be a passer.”
One of 12 true freshmen to play Saturday for Virginia, Watford first entered the game late in the second quarter with Virginia leading 10-0. George Beerhalter sacked him for a 5-yard loss on his second snap, leading to a three-and-out.
Beerhalter stuffed Watford for a 2-yard loss on his next series, late in the third quarter, but later Watford completed passes of 17 and 15 yards to Darius Jennings, 14 yards to Ray Keys.
“This is what I came here early in January for,” Watford said. “They took away the run. On a couple of plays I really wanted to take off, but they got me. I got the opportunity to show my arm and show I’m more than just a running quarterback. I can throw the ball, too.”
Coach Mike London said Watford’s playing time was about what he planned.
“It was kind of dicey,” London said of Watford’s first possession, “got a little nervous with a couple things, settled down later. He’ll continue to play in different spots. …They did a great job on the read play (a quarterback option of whether to hand off or run) he made famous in practice but I tell you, he made a couple good throws there.”
* Demetrious Nicholson became the first true freshman corner to start for the Cavaliers since Kevin Cook in 1986. He intercepted a Brent Caprio pass and returned it 31 yards.
* William and Mary’s 169 yards are the fewest by a Virginia opponent since Duke’s 100 in 2006.
* Redshirt freshman Kevin Parks is the first Cavalier to rush for three touchdowns in his collegiate debut since sophomore Bob Davis in 1964, when freshmen were ineligible.
* Reserve freshman outside linebacker Daquan Romero from Phoebus High was credited with four tackles, sharing team honors with reserve middle linebacker Henry Coley and reserve tackle Will Hill, the latter from Lafayette High.
* Reserve freshman tailback Clifton Richardson from Menchville High ran for 57 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. His longest run was 19 yards, and his fourth-quarter score was from 10 yards out.
* Virginia’s opponent next week, Indiana, dropped its opener Saturday, 27-20 at Ball State.
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