Former Virginia offensive coordinator Bill Lazor has said he will wait until the Philadelphia Eagles appoint him officially before he returns calls to the Virginia media and I feel safe in taking him at his word.
Among the first questions I will pose to him is whether he felt threatened by the hiring of former North Carolina State head coach Tom O’Brien as associate head coach for offense.
One of O’Brien’s first acts was to meet with Lazor and say he didn’t want Lazor’s job – either the coordinator’s job or the playcalling job. The test of that was when Lazor left. O’Brien didn’t want the coordinator’s job then, either.
As he was leaving UVa’s media briefing Wednesday on national signing day, I asked O’Brien what he thought of the selection of Steve Fairchild as offensive coordinator.
“Really good,” O’Brien said. “I mean, really good.”
Fairchild, most recently was an assistant with the San Diego Chargers and had returned to the west coast to attend to some personal matters Wednesday. But, he’s due back in Charlottesville next week and will meet with the media on Tuesday.
O’Brien said he knew Fairchild prior to his hiring by the Cavaliers but said that Fairchild also had received a strong endorsement from Dana Bible, O’Brien’s respected offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at both Boston College at North Carolina State.
I CAN’T REMEMBER a UVa signing day in which there has been as much discussion of the offensive line as there was Wednesday, particularly after the Cavaliers’ 11th-hour addition of one-time Wake Forest recruit Eric Tetlow and overnight Alpharetta, Ga., sensation George Adeosun.
(Coach Mike London pronounced the name as “Addison,” which would be convenient, but I think it’s closer to ay-dee-o-sun).
It’s interesting to note that when four assistants were fired Dec. 2, UVa had commitments from three offensive linemen, one of whom (Brad Henson) immediately decommitted and another of whom (Jack McDonald) was the object of an all-out recruiting blitz by hometown Boston College.
As soon as Henson went to North Carolina, the Cavaliers took a Dec. 20 commitment from Decatur, Ga., offensive lineman and finished with five offensive-line signees and a promising walk-on, Phillip Berry, from Woodberry Forest.
One shudders to think where the Cavaliers might have been, particularly if Morgan Moses had not decided to return for his final season of eligibility. That could be viewed as another recruiting victory.
THE CAVALIERS SHOULD be more than equipped to deal with the possible loss of Kelby Johnson, a 6-7, 300-pound sophomore who was redshirted last season and, at one point, was viewed as a possible three-year starter at tackle.
Instead, Johnson has been placed on indefinite suspension by London, for what has been described to me as academic inattention. However, unlike defensive tackle Chris Brathwaite, who is academically ineligible, Johnson is still in school. The Cavaliers still list him on the roster.
While there may have been questions about the offensive line, they mostly pertained to depth. In Moses and center Luke Bowanko, the Cavaliers will have a pair of seniors who logged 887 and 858 plays, respectively, in 2012.
Also back are starting guards Conner Davis and Sean Cascarano, who each played close to 700 plays. Backing them up will be Ross Burbank, who had more than 100 plays from scrimmage as a redshirt freshman.
So, that’s four returning starters and a likely fifth starter, former high-school All-America tackle Jay Whitmire, who was on the field for 197 plays as a redshirt freshman (93 on offense and 103 on special teams).
You’re not going to see a more experienced O-line almost anywhere.