Summer Reading 2013: Secondary

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Drequan Hoskey and Demetrious Nicholson logged 22 of 24 starts at corner.

The Summer Reading series has focused on the defensive line and linebackers in the last two articles. A similar theme emerged in those two articles as those positions feature a lot of potential with some concerns about depth.

A look at UVa’s secondary shows the same familiar promise without as many worries on the depth chart. After all, the top 6 players from the 2012 depth chart return in orange and blue for 2013. That includes three 12-game starters and 71 appearances among the group.

In other words, experience is the name of the game in the secondary. What remains to be seen is whether that playing time translates into a lock-down, ball-hawking set of defensive backs. These players, after all, would seem to be one of the keys to turning around 2012’s abysmal turnover margin. UVa tied for 110th nationally last season with a margin of minus-1.17. Virginia was one of just 8 teams at the FBS level (124 teams) with 12 or less turnovers created in 2012.

Taking that one step further, the Cavaliers had just 4 interceptions. Only 3 FBS teams – Colorado (3), Auburn (2), and South Florida (2) – had less, while only 3 other FBS teams – Maryland, New Mexico State, and Temple – tied that number. The combined record of these 6 teams plus Virginia? 20-63. None won more than 4 games.

Obviously, the defensive backs aren’t alone in those numbers. You need a pass rush to help facilitate those picks for example and Virginia produced just 17 sacks last season (tied for 98th nationally). Other positions can pick off passes too and only Eli Harold had an interception outside of the secondary last season for UVa. Still, the DBs are the biggest tone-setters and playmakers when it comes to INTs. So if Jon Tenuta’s newly installed scheme