The Cavalier Daily
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Rivers gets raw deal

What an absolute travesty it was that backup quarterback David Rivers did not see more time Saturday than a mere appearance late in the fourth quarter.

Just one week prior, Rivers rescued the possibility of a seven-win season with a monster outing against then-No. 7 Georgia Tech. And, quite frankly, he looked good doing it, completing 18 of 30 pass attempts for 228 yards and three touchdowns.

One would think, or dare I say, expect, that he would see at least a quarter of action against a winless Buffalo team the next week.

Instead he went from being the folk hero to being the forgotten.

Rivers earned a right to split time against the Bulls. He did everything that a backup should do against the Jackets and then some. And what was his reward? A couple of clock-killing hand offs?

I respect the fact that Virginia Coach George Welsh stuck to his policy of giving the starter his job back after injury. There is nothing wrong with that. However, the fact that Dan Ellis played well into the fourth quarter showed a lack of judgment and, frankly, a lack of class.

The game, for all practical purposes, was over early in the third, as the Cavs took a 30-14 lead with 12:56 to play in the quarter. And as if the score wasn't enough reason, Rivers' parents, all the way from Georgia, were in the stands to watch their son play.

So what if Ellis started and was on fire? So what if Ellis completed 16 of 19 passes in the game? So what if he threw a school-record six touchdown passes?

It was Buffalo. The game was in hand. Rivers should have played.

And despite what some might think after Saturday's performance, the quarterback "controversy" is not over. Ellis is the starter. So in that aspect, there is no "controversy." But if Ellis waltzes into College Park this weekend against Maryland and does not get the offense started quickly, and if the team is mired in a dogfight, then there is an interesting dilemma.

Do the coaches pull Ellis in favor of Rivers?

They should. The Cavaliers are trying to claw their way to the program's 13th-straight, seven-win season. The Cavs are trying to secure a bowl berth. They are trying to prevent the Terrapins from becoming bowl eligible.

In order to accomplish all of those things, this team must put it all on the line -- including substituting Rivers for Ellis if the situation calls for it. Wisconsin replaced starter Scott Kavanagh with Brooks Bollinger earlier this season because the team needed it. The move revived the Badgers, opened up the running game for Ron Dayne and carried them back to the Rose Bowl.

The Badgers did what they had to do at that time to win. So if Ellis is on fire again, then stick with him and all this is moot. If he is struggling, however, then do what must be done. In football, the "he's our starter; we win with him, we lose with him" saying is alive in theory but dead in practice. It is time Virginia realized it.


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