10-Day Hoo Preview: Position Outlook, Running Backs

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If his O-Line can produce, Al Groh likes to run the football.

Al Groh has always built his offensive backfield around players with a diverse set of skills. 2006 is no exception. This versatility allows the coaching staff to align the offense in an uncommon amount of sets and creates huge mismatches for opposing defenses. But the fact still remains that the job of the running backs is to run the football, something Virginia did not accomplish in a dominant fashion last season.

The Cavaliers run a hybrid version of the West Coast offenses that focuses on ball control, either through the pass or run. The preferred course by Groh is via the running game but he has proven to be able to adapt the game plan to fit the strengths or to minimize the weaknesses of his team.

In 2002, Virginia used the short pass almost in lieu of a running attack to compensate for a small and inexperienced offensive line. In 2004, with a bevy of talented running backs and a dominant offensive line, Virginia moved the ball 65 percent of the time with the running game. With another young group of unproven offensive linemen this season, Virginia may revert to the earlier Groh days with a ‘move the chains’ offense that relies heavily on the short to medium passing game to augment the running attack.

Tailbacks

Jason Snelling (Sr., 5-11, 232)

Cedric Peerman (So., 5-10, 205)
Michael Johnson (Sr., 5-9, 191)
Mikell Simpson (Fr., 6-1, 197)

The Virginia offense does not necessarily designate a first-team or second-team tailback. Groh knows a team doesn’t go through the season using one tailback, so the former NFL coach likes to mix things up with different backs and different running styles.

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