CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Virginia's Mike London almost outcoached himself with a questionable quarterback decision in the second half Saturday.
Starter Michael Rocco led the Cavaliers on a 12-play, 77-yard TD drive on their opening series of the half for a 10-7 lead. Rocco hit three big passes on the drive - 26, 20 and 16 yards - plus he threw a 1-yard touchdown to Jeremiah Mathis.
On the next offensive series, Rocco connected on a 23-yard strike to convert a third-and-20, but he lost a fumbled snap two plays later.
Rocco had gotten himself into a good rhythm, but London switched things up on the next two series as he went to backup Phillip Sims, a transfer from Alabama.
"Right after the mucked snap, I just wanted him to get on the sideline and look at the game a little bit," London said. "Phillip had two series. He was OK. He did a nice job."
Sims actually gave the Cavaliers nothing. They went backwards - because of a holding call - in a three-and-out on their next series, then Penn State drove for a go-ahead touchdown and 13-10 lead. On the ensuing series, Sims fumbled at his own 21 to set up a 32-yard field goal that gave PSU a 16-10 lead with 10:55 to play.
London was bailed out by Rocco, who had a three-and-out his first series back before leading Virginia on a game-winning 86-yard TD drive.
"We put Michael back in, and what a confidence booster for a guy like that to manage the team and manage a win," London said.
"Michael has done a nice job and runs his team well," London added. "We have another quarterback that's a good quarterback that you have to give opportunities to."
When to give those opportunities is the big question every coach deals with when he has two capable quarterbacks. London's decision Saturday, however, was peculiar to say the least as it cost his team momentum and nearly cost it the game.
"There was no, 'You're coming out because you're bad,' or anything like that," London said of Rocco. "It was another way to give a guy some reps and allow Mike to see what's going on. ... Then he came back in and did a nice job, and that's a credit to him."
Rocco's father, Frank Jr., was a backup quarterback on Penn State's 1982 national title team, and his grandfather, Frank Sr., was Altoona Area High School's head coach from 1979-81 before spending 19 seasons as a PSU administrator.
The younger Rocco finished 21-of-33 for 258 yards and two TDs.
"My job is to lead the team in whatever way possible," he said. "When I was taken out, I figured I was a leader from the sideline, and I had to stay poised and stay composed."
Rocco had to do it all for the Cavaliers, who were limited to 32 yards rushing. That's the fewest Virginia has had in a win since gaining only 20 yards rushing in a 2002 victory over Duke.
"It is exciting being 2-0 and having an exciting win like this today," Rocco said. "But we've got a lot of things to work on. We are going to celebrate this victory, but we know where we have to get better and what we have to do to get better. We have the guys to do it."