Michael Rocco

CFT Predicts: the ACC

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As the 2013 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we examine the ACC.  

While we’re at it, be sure to check out our other conference predictions: SECBig Ten, Pac-12

Atlantic Division

1. Clemson (Last year: 11-2; beat LSU in Chick-fil-A Bowl) 
What happened last season?
The Tigers shook their ‘Clemsoning’ curse and previous Orange Bowl loss to West Virginia by going 11-2 and beating LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

So why are they ranked here?
Offense, offense, offense. And some offense sprinkled in. Quarterback Tajh Boyd is a legitimate Heisman candidate and he’ll have Sammy Watkins to throw to for a third straight year. Watkins had a bit of a sophomore slump in 2012 — at least by his standards — because of a variety of issues, from a suspension to injuries, but he still finished second on the team in receiving yards. His touchdown production should rise again after getting in the end zone just four times.

Anything else?
The defense improved under first-year coordinator Brent Venables. With as good as the Tigers offense projects to be, there’s more wiggle room on that side of the ball. Also, can Clemson finally beat South Carolina after dropping four straight games?

2. Florida State (Last year: 12-2; beat NIU in Orange Bowl) 
What happened last season?
The ‘Noles won the ACC and beat NIU in the Orange Bowl. They also pulled their annual head-scratcher by losing to North Carolina State. The circle never ends, it seems.

So why are they ranked here?
Talent isn’t a question Tallahassee, but there are a lot of new faces. Redshirt freshman Jameis Winston has a ton of upside at the quarterback spot, it just remains to be seen at this point how he handles his first year as starter. Wide receiver depth is becoming an issue too. The defensive line loses two pass rushers in Tank Carradine and Bjoern Werner, but that’s an area stacked — almost unfairly — with capable players.

Anything else?
Florida State had a whopping 11 NFL draft picks in April, but Jimbo Fisher also had to replace roughly half his coaching staff. That’s a lot of turnover and it’ll be interesting to see how players and coaches jell this year.

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David Watford named UVa’s starting QB

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With Michael Rocco transferring and Phillip Simsdismissal, Virginia knew it would have a new starter under center in 2013.  Now, there’s officially a name to attach to the No. 1 player at the most important position on the field.

During a teleconference Monday, head coach Mike London revealed that David Watford has been named as the Cavaliers’ starting quarterback.  The Hampton (Va.) product beat out redshirt freshman Greyson Lambert for the starting job.

London’s decision comes a week into camp, giving the Cavaliers plenty of time with Watford as the unquestioned starter before the season opener against BYU Aug. 31.

Behind both Rocco and Sims last season on the depth chart, Watford took a redshirt his true sophomore year.  He played in 10 games the previous year as a true freshman after coming to UVa. as a three-star member of its 2011 recruiting class.

Ex-Tide QB Phillip Sims not feeling like himself this spring at UVA

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When former Virginia starting quarterback Michael Rocco announced he was transferring down a level to Richmond to play for his uncle, it was another sign to what was already assumed by many: that Alabama transfer Phillip Sims was the future starter for the Cavaliers.

That could still very well be the case, but as of UVA’s pre-spring depth chart , it isn’t. Sims was listed as the third-string QB behind David Watford and redshirt freshman Greyson Lambert.

When asked if he felt like he was able to be himself on the field despite this, Sims said no.

It really looks like it’s headed in the opposite direction,” Sims said, “but…I’m here to play football, man. Nobody wants to hear the excuses about what’s going on with this, or how is this going, so – hey, if I can’t be me, I’ve got to be as close as I can be.”

Sims, who will be a redshirt junior in 2013 and started four games last year, added that he felt like he’s had a good offseason and that he doesn’t know why the depth chart is ordered the way it is. It doesn’t sound like he’s making any excuses though, and that’s good to hear.

Consider the fact that Sims, along with the rest of the QB group, is learning a new set of terminology from recently hired offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild. Per the Daily Press, Fairchild is Sims’ fifth different OC in as many years dating back to his high school days. That’s difficult for any QB, whether they’re a walk-on or a highly touted signal caller like Sims was coming out of high school in 2010 when he signed with the Tide.

It’s a long offseason though. With a little continuity, maybe Sims will have a better chance to settle in.

Ex-Virginia QB to play for uncle at Richmond

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A little over a month after announcing his decision to transfer from Virginia, Michael Rocco has landed at a lower level to continue his playing career.  And, as it turns out, he will find a familiar face on the sidelines to boot.

In a release, FCS program Richmond announced that Rocco was one of three players who have transferred into the football program.  The Spiders are coached by Danny Rocco, who is the quarterback’s uncle.

After it became clear that Alabama transfer Phillip Sims was the future at the position, Rocco transferred from the Cavaliers in early December.  Rocco started eight games this season, with Sims starting the other four.  He started a total of 21 games the past two seasons and ended his Cavaliers career as a top-ten passer in a handful of statistical categories.

The release states that Richmond will seek a waiver on the NCAA’s “year in residency” bylaw that would allow Rocco to be eligible to compete beginning in the 2013 season.

In addition to Rocco’s, um, addition, Richmond announced that tight end Sean Fitzpatrick is transferring from North Carolina to the Spiders.

QB Michael Rocco to transfer from Virginia

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In early May, Virginia landed Alabama transfer Phillip Sims.  The offshoot of that?  The move apparently cost the Hoos their most experienced quarterback.

Douglas Doughty of the Roanoke Times is reporting that Michael Rocco has asked for and been granted a release from his UVa scholarship.  Rocco reportedly met with head coach Mike London Friday and the decision to part ways was described as amicable.

As Rocco is a true junior and yet to use his redshirt, he’d be able to transfer to an FBS program and, after redshirting during a transfer season in 2013, would have one final year of eligibility in 2014.

The school has yet to address Rocco’s status for 2013.

Rocco started eight games this season, with Sims starting the other four.  He started a total of 21 games the past two seasons and will end his Cavaliers career as a top-ten passer in a handful of statistical categories.

While Rocco started more games than Sims, the quarterbacking duo each played in all 12 games as UVa’s coaching staff rotated the players on a weekly basis, sometimes series-by-series, for the latter half of the season.