2003 Virginia Football Preview: The Defense

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Ahmad Brooks

If you never watched a Virginia football game during the 2002 season, you would have to say that the Cavaliers had one of the worst defenses in the country, going simply by statistical ranks. The Cavaliers were ranked 108th in the nation in rushing defense in 2002, which ranked 8th in the ACC. When combined with a pass defense that was ranked 4th in the ACC, Virginia’s overall defense came in 8th in the ACC in total yards given up during the 2002 season, a fact that was not lost on head coach Al Groh.

“We still have improvement to make on the defensive side of the ball,” Groh said. “We came in 8th in total defense, and we’ve got to work to improve that in the fall. We have a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball, and I know we can improve our defense all around.”

While the stats weren’t in the favor of the Cavaliers, they certainly didn’t tell the entire story on defense. Virginia’s young defense came up with 37 forced turnovers, which led the league, and ranked 5th in the ACC in scoring defense. The Cavaliers often relied on a defense that bent, but rarely broke, as they would hold a team to a field goal in a crucial drive of the game instead of a touchdown in the red zone. With a few new faces, and 7 returning starters with another year of experience under their belts, Virginia has a chance to wreak havoc on defense this season.

Defensive Line

Keenan Carter

Under the tutelage of new strength and conditioning coach Evan Marcus, the returning starters on Virginia’s defensive line have been working to bulk up over the summer after a 2002 season which featured plenty of ups and downs for the front three. Some struggles were to be expected, however, as the regular rotation featured