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Posted April 12, 2010 | comments Leave a comment

Metheny sharp in spring game

By Jeremy Stafford - jstafford@nvdaily.com

CHARLOTTESVILLE -- "Talk to me."

University of Virginia quarterback Ross Metheny looked both excited and exhausted. Only minutes following U.Va.'s annual spring game, which pitted the Orange team against the Blue team in a controlled scrimmaged, Scott Stadium hummed with enthusiasm over Metheny, the former Sherando star who'd just picked apart the Cavaliers' second-string defense.

The Orange team defeated the Blue team 30-3, and Metheny headed three scoring drives that accounted for 17 of the Orange team's points.

Cavalier fans swarmed to the quarterback during a post-scrimmage autograph session, which was given a time limit of 10 minutes. After 20 minutes, Metheny was still squiggling his name in black marker on blue hats and orange jerseys.

Metheny's mother, Lynn, took pictures of her son as he shelled out his swirling signature to children half his age, and adults twice his age.

When he finally maneuvered out of the crowd, members of the local and national media begged for quotes from the redshirt freshman who'd completed six of 10 passes, thrown for 140 yards, and heaved the longest touchdown pass of the afternoon -- a 57-yard rocket to redshirt freshman wideout Ray Keys.

When pressed for one more interview, Metheny mustered a laugh: "Talk to me."

For an ACC quarterback, the game doesn't always end when the clock runs out.

"It is what it is," he said in regards to the attention he garnered. "You just try to soak it all in."

Not a moment went by when a reaching hand didn't ask Metheny for a handshake or an autograph. Even Sherando coach Bill Hall, sporting a blue Virginia Cavaliers T-shirt, had to wait his turn to meet with his former pupil.

There's no room for former coaches as far as adoring fans are concerned.

"He looked great, didn't he?" Hall smiled, waiting his turn in line.

On an afternoon in which Marc Verica -- the projected starting quarterback for the 2010 season -- threw two picks in an 83-yard performance, it was Metheny who threw darts rather than ducks.

Metheny's first pass of the game was a 22-yard zip to tight end Kevin Royal. His second pass traveled 43 yards to the back shoulder of Matt Snyder. The pass fell incomplete; the stadium rose in fervor.

Midway through Metheny's first touchdown drive, the quarterback converted a third-and-14 with a 15-yard hurl to Quintin Hunter. The drive ended with a two-yard run by Keith Payne and an exuberant fist-pump by Metheny.

"I gotta keep the fist-pump going," he laughed, "the fist-pump's gotta come to Charlottesville."

But Metheny has other reasons to be excited. No longer is U.Va. running the dink-and-dunk spread offense of former coach Al Groh. This new offense, installed by offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, screams pro-style productivity. It drips with deep passes and is meant to churn out points.

It's the kind of offense Metheny's arm was built to play in.

"It was a blast, and I think that's the key thing, especially with this offense," Metheny said. "Once you get to the point where you're comfortable with it, and you know what you're doing, and you understand, then you can just play football.

"And anytime you can just play football is when you have fun and you can be successful."

Metheny and the Cavaliers have had 14 spring practices to learn Lazor's offense. They'll have one more practice Tuesday morning before the school year starts winding down.

At that point Metheny will focus his efforts on putting on weight and memorizing a playbook that, as of yet, has been only partially installed.

Just before spring break, Metheny and the rest of the U.Va. quarterbacks met with first-year head coach Mike London to review and revise the offense, adding a new wrinkle each meeting.

"I don't think we're anywhere close to where the end of the offense is," Metheny said. "We're still at the beginning of the trail, but it's definitely been a big learning curve."

Learning curve or not, Metheny has caught on quickly, and although he did a lot of the talking Saturday, it seems the buzz around campus is all about Metheny.


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