10-Day Hoo Preview: System Outlook, Pass Defense

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Can an experienced secondary including Nate Lyles help shut down the passing game?

I’m back with the anticipated preview of the 2006 pass defense. It is very difficult to separate a defense into “run” and “pass” defense because the two are so co-dependant. Many horrible pass defenses have been propped up statistics-wise because the run defense was so porous that no opponent ever threw the ball and vice versa. In my opinion, the 2005 UVa defense was pretty poor all-around, but one area where I am anticipating drastic improvement in 2006 is against the pass.

As everyone knows, defending the pass is a combination between pass rush and pass coverage. Any decent quarterback can pick apart a great secondary if he has all day to do so – that means the front 7 is as important against the pass as the guys physically covering the receivers. A big part of the mediocre secondary play last year was the lack of pressure on opponents’ QBs. What will defensive coordinator Mike London do to improve that pass rush?

While the pass rush didn’t do the secondary any favors last year, the coverage often left a lot to be desired as well. A vanilla Cover 2 zone allowed for too many easy throws and not enough pressure on the WRs. What resulted was a defense that didn’t force the offense out of its rhythm and allowed too many free yards. It does no good to have good athletes in the secondary if they are only used to sit in a soft zone. How will London use his depth in the secondary to ensure better pass coverage this year?

With those questions in mind, let’s breakdown the pass defense.

Pass Rush

The 3-4 defense is designed to present the opposing offense with a ton of different looks, and angles of attack. It should be difficult for the offense to pick up blocking assignments and for the quarterback to make good reads before the snap. The UVa defense