The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Senior competes for starting quarterback job with Sewell, Verica; coach Al Groh expects Hall to continue former punt returning role regardless

Virginia cornerback Vic Hall (4)..The Virginia Cavaliers defeated the Duke Blue Devils 23-14 at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, VA on September 8, 2007  With the loss, Duke extended their longest-in-the-nation losing streak to 22 games.
Virginia cornerback Vic Hall (4)..The Virginia Cavaliers defeated the Duke Blue Devils 23-14 at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, VA on September 8, 2007 With the loss, Duke extended their longest-in-the-nation losing streak to 22 games.

By the time Virginia Tech comes to town, Vic Hall might be lining up for the game winning field goal.\nFor now, Virginia coach Al Groh is content to name Hall the team's starting punt returner. Never mind that Hall is also the leading candidate to be the team's starting quarterback; that starting quarterbacks rarely do anything other than play quarterback; that returning punts often involves head-on collisions with 200-pound giants running full-speed with the sole purpose of laying the returner flat on his back.\nHall may run the first punt back for a 60-yard, dazzling touchdown. Or, he may tear his ACL and never play college football again.\nCertainly, Hall already faces the possibility of injury as a running quarterback, but putting him in the position to return punts only exacerbates the problem inherent to his style of play.\nBut after enduring a disappointing 5-7 season last year, during which Virginia ranked last in the ACC in both scoring offense (16.1 points per game) and total offense (299.8 yards per game), and 10th in punt return average (6.6 yards per game), Groh appears willing to take some risks if it means boosting offensive production.\n"Vic's our best punt returner," Groh said. "So when it's time to return punts, that's all that's at heart, that's at issue. We have a chance to score on that play; I want to put our guy back there who gives us our best chance to do that. We want to handle the ball cleanly - to do otherwise, we jeopardize our chance to win."\nHeading into his last season at Virginia, Hall seems determined to be the Cavaliers' Renaissance man, doing whatever it takes to win.\n"I'm just taking it one day at a time, taking every moment in and leaving it all on the field," Hall said. "'Cause no matter what happens - if I make it to the next level or not - I can never get college football back."\nPerhaps it is this sense of urgency that has inspired Hall to take on his new roles with such vigor.\n"He wants a few other jobs, too," Groh said, "if we'd let him have them."\nBut no matter how badly Hall wants to be Virginia's superhero this season, he is not immune to the basic human condition of fatigue. Even Hall acknowledges the difficulty associated with returning punts and immediately lining up under center on first down.\n"Definitely I'm limited," Hall said. "If I have to, I could go play quarterback, but we have other guys obviously who could play quarterback in that situation."\n"That situation" will occur every time the opposing team punts.\n"That's one thing we know for sure," Groh said. "We'll have Vic back there every time [they punt]."\nIf this is indeed the case, Groh and offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon may have to give more snaps to junior Marc Verica or senior Jameel Sewell, raising a couple of potential problems. First - featuring multiple quarterbacks in a single series could disrupt any offensive rhythm the team builds. Moreover, the use of Sewell or Verica on first down may actually make the offense more predictable. Any attentive defense should recognize that when the starting quarterback is on the sideline, the offense is more likely to hand the ball off to a running back.\nDespite these potential problems, if Hall does become an effective returner, he will have a chance to ignite the offense with big plays - the likes of which Virginia saw few and far between last year.\n"It's a position that I've learned," Hall said. "And once you learn something, you have fun doing it, 'cause it's catch and run."\nThat could be the mantra of the 2009 Virginia football team: Run, Hall, run.

Comments

Latest Podcast

Today, we sit down with both the president and treasurer of the Virginia women's club basketball team to discuss everything from making free throws to recent increased viewership in women's basketball.