By Jeremy Stafford -- firstname.lastname@example.org
CHARLOTTESVILLE -- Slowly, Ross Metheny took in his surroundings.
While lobbing passes during pre-game warmups just before the University of Virginia's season-opener against William and Mary, the Cavalier redshirt freshman quarterback watched as orange-clad fans trickled into the bleachers at Scott Stadium.
Though the stadium in Charlottesville has a capacity of well over 60,000, the turnout, as of yet, was hardly overwhelming.
But Metheny didn't see the sea of orange and blue pour into the stands as the minutes to game time melted away. He never saw the Cavalier marching band stomp its way across the field, the high evening sun shimmering off the glossy brass tubas, or the baton twirlers spinning and dancing and tossing their wands high into the September sky.
He didn't see the band spell the word "Wahoos" before it quickly morphed into an image of the Rotunda, the famous U.Va. building designed by Thomas Jefferson hundreds of years ago. But no matter. Metheny had seen that spectacle before, during his recruiting visits, and so it was no huge loss when compared to the image that swept him away as he billowed onto the field just before kick off.
"When we went out of the tunnel right before game time, you run out and the smoke's coming out and you can't really see anything until about the 20-yard line," Metheny explained. "I get to about the 20-yard line and I look around, and all the sudden the stadium's completely full.
"That was a pretty humbling experience and pretty cool to be a part of."
Unfortunately, Metheny had to watch as another unfamiliar and humbling event took place. He watched from the sideline as starting quarterback Vic Hall, who scored on the Cavalier's first drive, struggled to run against a surprisingly immovable Tribe defense; he watched Jameel Sewell toss three interceptions; and he watched a 26-14 upset of his Cavaliers unfold before that orange Charlottesville sea.
But Metheny, so used to winning as the star quarterback at Sherando for the last four seasons, said the loss didn't create any urge for him to jump into the huddle and lead the Wahoos down the field the way he so often led the Warriors.
"The thing about being in the position that we're all in is that you definitely have to know your role on the team," Metheny said. "And that's something everybody on every team has to know, doesn't matter if it's high school or college Division I, everybody has to know their role and know their part."
Metheny has certainly accepted his role at Virginia as the quarterback for the scout team, and said that as a redshirt freshman at an ACC school, he's thrilled to be able to help his team in any way possible.
This past week Metheny stood in as William and Mary's R.J. Archer, who laced the Virginia secondary for 184 yards and a touchdown Saturday.
This week Metheny will play the part of Texas Christian quarterback Andy Dalton.
"Our games pretty much come during the week, when we're giving the scout look, trying to get the first-stringers the best possible look we can give and just try to have them as well prepared as we can get them," Metheny said. "So basically our games are Monday through Thursday."
Just because the former Sherando star is throwing passes to third- and fourth-string wide receivers during practices, though, doesn't mean he isn't raising some eyebrows. Metheny's relatively quick grasp of offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon's spread offense has impressed Hall, a captain and cornerback who solidified himself as Brandon's mobile quarterback when he rushed for 109 yards and two touchdowns against Virginia Tech last season.
"Ross is a guy [who's] very eager to learn," Hall said. "He came in and grasped hold of the offense pretty quickly. In some scrimmages with the freshmen, he did a very, very good job and made some plays.
"He's very talented so I feel he's gonna be a good player when his time comes."
Metheny said that those scrimmages -- dubbed the Weenie Bowls in Charlottesville -- are games between freshman, third-and-fourth-stringers, and incoming recruits, intended to provide some manner of playing time to those who otherwise wouldn't have any.
Metheny admitted that he's been able to grasp Brandon's offense pretty easily, since it's a straightforward, quarterback-friendly offense similar to what he and Warriors coach Bill Hall ran at Sherando.
And though Metheny's experiences in the last couple months have been altogether new for him, they certainly haven't been strange or uncomfortable: Donning the blue and orange is as natural for him now as it was to sport the red and black a year ago.
"I thought it would be [different], but it's a knew chapter and it's part of the process and it's something to look forward to," Metheny said. "Of course, you never forget coach Hall and the black and red Warriors, but right now, I'm a blue and orange Cavalier, and I'm humbled and glad to be a part of it.
"I'm just looking forward to the opportunity when I can actually contribute."