Defensive coordinator Mike London has more depth to work with this season.
The Virginia football team kicks off at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Scott Stadium as the Spring Game wraps up the spring practice period for the Cavaliers. I know what you’re thinking: “Eh, it’s just the Spring Game – what can you really learn from these things anyway?” Yes, the action is controlled and the complexity limited, but there are still a handful of storylines to keep an eye on. The Sabre’s Spring Game Cheat Sheet gives you five key things to watch this weekend.
5. The Middle Of The Defense. As good as Virginia’s defense was in 2006 – and it was a pretty strong group – the middle of the defense could use some oomph. Jon Copper and Antonio Appleby do a solid job as middle linebackers, but the Cavaliers redshirted a crop of players that could provide variety in certain situations.
And by variety, I mean speed. John Bivens and Darnell Carter both have the wheels to give that unit a different look when its needed or wanted. Plus, Appleby and Copper logged a ton of plays last season and coach Al Groh says that added depth should lead to fresher players in the fourth quarter.
Increased depth and diversity in the linebacker corps seems to be a luxury. I’m not sure the same can be said one level deeper at safety. Byron Glaspy and Nate Lyles had good if not great seasons in 2006, but they aren’t exactly complementary parts. Virginia needs someone like Brandon Woods , Jamaal Jackson , or Rico Bell to step up and fill the role of a cover safety. At times, UVa’s defense can be attacked with mismatches or with speed downfield – a strong cover safety would help ease those concerns.
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