One of the most-talked about players on UVa's roster this preseason isn't a true freshman but instead a heralded recruit turned Alabama signee who now calls Charlottesville home. Phillip Sims entered training camp looking to earn the job of starting quarterback for Virginia in 2012 and after a crash course in the playbook and a week on the field, he talked about his experience thus far.
In addition to the audio linked above, here are Sims' thoughts in his own words.
Q: A week in the books. How did it go?
A: It was pretty good. It's some minor adjustments that I just got to make personally to my game to just get used to the offense and to get used to the coaches and the way they want things done. I mean, it wasn't a bad week. It's the first week of practice so you've got a few things that you didn't do the way you wanted to do them. But we'll get it done.
Q: You got some time with the 1s there.
A: Yeah, a little bit. Just getting used to some of the different guys that I've been going with. I've been going with a lot of different groups so just getting used to how everybody out here plays and how some guys want the ball, how some guys run routes, just the chemistry getting together. It's a little difficult trying to do it out here against a live defense, but you've got to do what you've got to do sometimes.
Q: Different for you when the coaches are watching as opposed to 7-on-7?
A: No. You've got to go through all of your reps like coaches are out here watching you, like everybody's watching you. I don't think it's the coaches, I think it's more just getting used to how everybody does different things.
Q: What have they told you about next week? Snaps are going to start getting divided up differently?
A: I haven't talked to anybody about anything as far as reps, competition, who's going to be the quarterback, anything like that. I'm just coming out here everyday and doing what I'm asked to do. If that's what gets me the starting job, so be it. But I haven't talked to anybody about anything as far as the competition right now.
Q: What happened (Friday) in that running drill?
A: (Laughs) Little hamstring tweak. Just kind of planted wrong and it kind of tightened up on me. But I'm good. If we had a game tomorrow, I'd be out here 100, well I'm not going to say 100 percent. But 95 percent.
Q: How have you adjusted to the playbook?
A: The plays are the same. The reads will be the same. Guys will end up in the same spots. It's just when you go into a huddle to call a play, it's different saying it in this language than in a previous language. That's the hardest part, just kind of scrapping the language you heard before and now having to come in, call a different play in the huddle. You're used to saying a play and being able to see it. Now it's kind of, you're saying it but you don't see it right away so you feel like, you just don't feel like yourself at first. But as things come along, you get to learn things, everything comes back to center and it's football at the end of the day.
Q: Does it feel normal yet?
A: Not yet. It'll come. I'm just still not seeing things as fast as I'm used to seeing them. And as a quarterback, anybody will tell you that's the key thing. You have to see things when things happen and before they happen. You can't see something after it happens. And I think that's what I have to do better next week.
Q: What have you seen from (Tim Smith)?
A: Tim's worked hard all offseason. He's ran great routes. He's catching the football pretty well. Tim is a guy with some exceptional speed on the outside. He gets past the defense and I don't know if anybody is going to catch him. If we can use him in the vertical game in our offense, Tim is a key point to our offense this season.
Q: How has he changed much since the last time you guys got together?
A: He's more well rounded as a receiver. In high school, you're pretty much relying on natural ability and you don't have a year-round football program in high school. Now he has an offense where he's being groomed in and he's improved in the small aspects of the game that he didn't have in high school. He's still the great athlete, still can catch a football. But not he understands the game a little bit more.
Q: What's he like as a roommate in camp? Is it like old times?
A: Yeah, pretty much. The big brother, little brother relationship that Tim and me have always had. So I mean, it kind of takes you back a little bit. Some of the things that you remember from high school being together. But it's all the same. Me and Tim have been cool since high school and we remained cool after I went to Bama and he came here. It's the same relationship we've always had.
Q: How hard has it been studying the playbook?
A: Studying the playbook's not hard. It's how much can you retain at one time from when you studied till when you have to come back out here and execute? That's the problem for any guy trying to learn a new offense. How much can you retain at one time? In camp, you're stuffing so much in in such a short time, that's the hard part about it. As freshmen though and as I'm realizing, it's something you have to do. There's no way around it. If you're going to play, you have to know the offense.
Q: How do you feel like you've progressed in that regard?
A: I think I've done a pretty good job over this last week. I've been working at it all summer but it's a little different coming out here and getting the coaching points and the coaching hints that are necessary for you to execute these plays. After one week, I think I've improved a good amount.
Q: What's it like having Coach Lazor? What's that relationship been like?
A: Coach Lazor, he's a very smart, intelligent coach. I've been around a few offensive coordinators the last couple of years so I'm learning that each offensive coordinator is different. No coach is going to coach you the exact same. The key points that he's giving me that I haven't heard before, I'm just adding on to my repertoire what I've learned before and just adding it on and hopefully it'll help me in the long run.
Q: What kind of things is he adding on?
A: Just as far as my footwork, just me getting set quicker. Getting back. Getting my eyes working a little bit more. Just little things that'll make you a great quarterback in the end. You can be a good quarterback but he's trying to teach you how to be a great quarterback.
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