The benching certainly was unpleasant, but after struggling for three-plus quarters Saturday, Phillip Sims understood.
“I just didn’t do a good job of getting the ball to my (teammates),” Sims said after the 27-20 defeat. “It comes down to me -- I’m the quarterback. I need to get the ball into their hands, and I wasn’t doing it. Sometimes you’re hit and miss, and I was a lot of miss today.”
Most of Sims’ misses occurred in the first half, when he was 5-of-17 with an interception that the Terps converted into a touchdown. Sims finished 13-of-28 for 139 yards, 20 on a third-quarter touchdown to E.J. Scott.
That was the lone touchdown Sims produced in his second start. Rocco, who started the season’s first four games, was 5-of-11 for 79 yards and a score, bringing the Cavaliers within seven points late. But on Virginia’s final possession, he went 0-for-4, including an overthrow of tailback Khalek Shepherd, who was wide open.
Who starts next week against Wake Forest? Who knows?
“That’s not up to me,” Sims said politely. “That’s up to the coaches, and they decide what’s best for the team. I have no say-so in anything that goes on as far as who starts, who plays, how much they play, anything like that. I just do what I’m told.”
Maryland coach Randy Edsall offered this assessment of Rocco: “As I evaluate them, watching them on film, I think he is the best passer that they have. So it didn’t surprise me that when they got into that situation where they had to throw the ball, that he would come in because, as I said, I think that he is the best pure passer of the two so I’ll leave it at that.”
The last thing any coach wants is a weekly referendum on the quarterbacks. So if I were London, I’d probably start Sims against Wake Forest.
But if that goes poorly, and with an open date the following week to re-evaluate, I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to Rocco.
Some other notes, numbers and observations:
* Virginia kicker Ian Frye said Maryland’s Stefon Diggs fooled the Cavaliers’ coverage team on the opening kickoff by hesitating in the end zone before electing to disdain a touchback.
“The ball was 5 yards deep (in the end zone) I believe,” Frye said, “and we had the feeling that he was going to take a knee. He kind of tricked us. We need to make sure that we don’t slow down.”
Diggs took the opening kickoff to the house, the first kick return for touchdown against Virginia since Southern Mississippi in 2009.
“We knew that Diggs was a special player, a dynamic player,” London said. “Your job is to run down on the kickoffs and cover the kickoffs. Regardless of what you think someone is doing, that’s what we’re supposed to do, and obviously we didn’t do it.”
“I knew once I got the ball in the end zone that I was going to take it out regardless,” Diggs said. “I hesitated a little at first because they were telling me to ‘stay in, stay in.’ But I was thinking, ‘No we’re going to take this one out.’ Last game we had a shot but we didn’t go for it. My front line guys did a good job, so I didn’t want them to waste all their energy.”
* Virginia’s 168 rushing yards were the most against Maryland this season and more than double the Terps’ 81-yard norm, stinginess that ranked seventh nationally.
* Maryland senior defensive tackle Joe Vellano played up to his All-American credentials with nine tackles and two sacks.
Virginia’s best defenders were senior linebacker LaRoy Reynolds and true freshman end Eli Harold. Reynolds matched his career-high with 12 tackles, three for loss, while Harold had 1.5 sacks and three tackles for loss among his four stops.
The Deacons were markedly better then, going a combined 28-12 from 2006-08. They have not enjoyed a winning season since.
I can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP
Here’s a link to my Daily Press print columns, including one on Saturday's game.