As far as two-minute drills are concerned, Virginia offensive coordinator Bill Lazor has learned to have faith in what Michael Rocco can get done.

Lazor saw Rocco lead U.Va. (4-6 overall, 2-4 ACC) on a 15-play, 77-yard drive last season at Indiana that consumed five minutes and concluded with a touchdown and two-point conversion to tie the Hoosiers 31-31 with less than two minutes remaining. U.Va. eventually went on to win 34-31.

Later last season, Lazor witnessed Rocco take U.Va. on a five-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a touchdown with less than two minutes left in a 14-13 win at No. 23 Florida State.

So, when Rocco trotted onto the field Saturday against Miami to start a drive at U.Va.’s 13-yard line with the Cavaliers trailing 40-35 and only 2:38 left in the game, Lazor had plenty of confidence. It didn’t matter that Rocco had spent the game rotating with Phillip Sims at U.Va.’s quarterback spot. Rocco was the right man for the job.

Lazor broke it down with his long-winded, but complete, explanation of what goes into an effective two-minute drive:

“I think it’s one of the hardest things to do in football to be a quarterback in the two-minute drive, because, number one, the defense knows you’re probably passing the ball 90 percent of the time,” said Lazor after U.Va.’s 41-40 win against Miami, a victory that culminated with Rocco’s 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jake McGee with six seconds left. “The pass rush is going to be difficult. It’s going to be noisy in there. The coverages you face aren’t going to be run-stopping coverages where (the defensive backs) are off. They’re going to be pass coverages where they’re doubling people and jamming people. It’s as difficult as can be. You’ve got very little deception involved. Then, to go on top of it because we’re a huddling team, now he’s got to make calls at the line, he’s got to use hand signals, he’s got to memorize the protections that go with the hand signals he gets from the sideline, he’s got to put it all together, he’s got to communicate clearly, he’s got to do quickly under the gun.

“Sometimes, one of the hardest things in two minutes it’s if you run and get tackled, or if you run around and start getting winded. Now, you’re still yelling. We tell them, ‘Use your voice to push the offense into a formation. Project your voice. The pushing of your voice helps them get lined up.’ That just helps to remind them to be loud as you get winded as the drive goes on. All those things go together, and it’s difficult, but I think over time he’s proven – and I’ll even go back to when he made plays in the Indiana game last year, the second game of the year, to tie the game. I felt like I’ve seen him mature and grow. In the end, quarterbacks are going to be judged by production and team wins, especially in pressure situations. I thought he did a great job.”

Rocco, who started for the first time since the Louisiana Tech game in September, had his sights set on his favorite security blanket on U.Va.’s final play from scrimmage.

Ever since their clashes against each other on the football fields and basketball courts at Liberty Christian Academy in Lynchburg, where Rocco went to high school, and Collegiate School in Richmond, where McGee graduated, Rocco said he’s had a firm understanding of exactly the kind of athletic ability McGee possesses. So, Rocco had no qualms about putting the last pass up high near the back of the end zone for the 6-foot-5 McGee to go up and get.

“He is the (primary receiver) whenever there is six seconds on the clock and you need a touchdown,” Rocco said. “We’re taught, especially in the red zone, that if you are not going to hit them right on the numbers that you have to put it high where the defense can’t get it and on the back line where your guy can get it, so that’s what I tried to do.”

McGee echoed Lazor’s confidence in Rocco’s ability to lead the offense in the two-minute drill.

“It was real calm, actually,” said McGee of the demeanor of the offense as they headed onto the field trailing 40-35. “Everyone has complete faith that (Rocco) can lead us down the field, and we just knew it was hopefully a matter of time before we could get seven on the board. Everyone knew that this was it. It was our last drive, so (Rocco) kept us focused and told us that we got this.”

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All season, McGee has been recognized as a guy with a knack for making spectacular catches, but entering Saturday, it had been a while since he’d come up with one. He was starting to lose his reputation.

“Guys have been giving me a lot of grief this past season because I haven’t had a lot of big plays recently,” said McGee, who had four catches for 26 yards and a touchdown against Miami, and who has 24 catches for 320 yards and five touchdowns on the season as U.Va.’s third team tight end. “It was starting to catch up to me and get on my nerves a little bit, so luckily I was able to make that play.”

With Rocco completing 29 of 37 passes for 300 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions, and leading U.Va. to touchdowns on five of the seven drives he was in the game (one other drive consisted of just one play right before halftime), is U.Va.’s quarterback rotation a thing of past?

Not necessarily. Lazor said he liked the way the rotation was going, and it sounded like unless he sees something on film that turns him off, he’ll be inclined to continue to use it in Thursday night’s game against North Carolina.

Though Miami didn’t come into the game known for having a stout defense (113th in the nation out of 120 Bowl Subdivision programs in total defense entering the game; 490.4 yards per game), U.Va. was still forced to generate something in the passing game because the Hurricanes produced their best effort of the season against the run.