10-Day Hoo Preview: System Outlook, Run Defense

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Will Mike London’s return mean more aggressive defense at Virginia?

The offseason return of defensive coordinator Mike London has created some excitement for the Virginia football program, and not only through London’s immediate impact on recruiting. Critics of the 3-4, of which there are many, have hopes that London will implement at least a part-time use of the 4-3 set; proponents of the 3-4 are certainly eager for more aggressive play than the men in orange have shown in recent seasons.

The talk from this spring and summer has been of a defense that changes fronts, attacks more, and plays with increased aggressiveness. One thing is certain – the ‘read and react’ mentality of recent Hoo defenses has no place in the ACC, as was so drastically illustrated in the Virginia Tech (333 rushing yards allowed) and Maryland (250) debacles last year.

Being successful defensively all starts with shutting down the run and forcing the opponent to be one-dimensional, but how will London accomplish this goal? Let’s take a look at the Cavalier personnel that will be at the coaches’ disposal, how they will be employed, and what kind of results UVa fans can expect this season from the run defense.

Defensive Line


The defensive line will win or lose games for the Hoos this year. I really can’t say it much more simply than that. For the defense as a whole to be successful against the run, the front 3 must at least hold its ground, and more than intermittently create penetration. Some will argue that this goal would be easier accomplished with four big guys in the trenches, but I hold that it is more an issue of scheming and personnel than the number of bodies on the front. UVa could play an 8-man front and be mediocre at best against the run if they stick with the predictable trends of years past.

I’ve previously made the mistake of thinking that the main job