Things I Learned About … The Secondary

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The new semester has started. The basketball team is making a run at the NCAA Tournament. Signing Day is right around the corner and the official visits are done. The Bears are about to win the Super Bowl. Spring practices creep ever closer. So that must mean it is time to put UVa’s 2006 football season to rest with the last of the review columns. This week, the defensive backs.

It is hard to separate the play of the safeties like Tony Franklin and the cornerbacks.

When One Really Is Two. In many ways, it is unfair to break apart units – the defensive line from the linebackers, the linebackers from the defensive backs, etc. – in evaluating the performance of the defense. After all, every unit has to work together for the defense to perform. So having said that, it follows that it is ridiculously unfair to break apart a unit itself – defensive ends from defensive tackles, inside linebackers from outside linebackers, etc. – in reviewing the performance of a single unit.

Now, having said all that, I will proceed to be ridiculously unfair.

When I look back at the performance of the defensive backs this year, I see good and bad plays from everyone in the secondary. That is to be expected when you breakdown a season, as defensive backs are going to be beat from time to time. But as has been the case after several recent seasons, I am left with the feeling that there was a clear gap between the performance of the cornerbacks as opposed to the performance of the safeties, particularly when you look at the pass defense.

A couple of weeks ago, I read a post where FUHOO asked other posters (and I may be a little off in my recollection) to remind him of the last time a UVa safety made a break on a ball to pick off a pass. I suspect that his challenge was a rhetorical one – well, maybe not – but the point was made. Though there certainly are examples from this season – such as Tony Franklin’s pick to preserve a win against NCSU – it is not as if poster after poster was replying