Kai Parham picked up the slack for Ahmad Brooks .
At this point, it’s all about survival. No Ahmad Brooks . No Wali Lundy. Let’s face it, Virginia’s just not a very good team without those guys. Once they return, that may change. But right now, we might as well be satisfied with ugly wins, because the Cavs don’t have what it takes to dominate anybody.
For now, that’s fine. Of course, if the ‘Hoos don’t make major improvements over the course of the season, they don’t stand a chance in the ACC. But there are reasons to think this team will get healthier and better as the weeks go by. And wouldn’t that be a nice change from last year, when a dazzling start didn’t mean much by November?
In that respect, the schedule shapes up perfectly for the Cavs. They don’t have to be at their best in September – and they sure haven’t been. They have now committed six turnovers in two games, four more than they’ve forced. Their pass defense has been shaky – can someone please cover the tight end?! – and their special teams has been average. But they still have survived woeful Western Michigan and, today, a mediocre Syracuse crew in the Carrier Dome. They should be able to do the same the next two weeks against Duke and Maryland, which is now 0-2 at home after losing to West Virginia.
By Oct. 8, when they play at Boston College, they may be 4-0 without impressing anybody. And, cross your fingers, they should have Brooks and Lundy back on the field by then. If anything, the first two games have highlighted how important those two players are to the Cavaliers. Without Brooks, the UVa defense simply doesn’t have many playmakers. Brooks can cover tight ends. He can pressure the passer. He can stuff the run and force turnovers. Al Golden needs him to play the kind of aggressive defense he wants to play.
Likewise, Lundy is critical to the Virginia offense. Michael Johnson had a scintillating
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