Virginia Football Notes: Defense’s Solid Start

Virginia Cavaliers Nick Jackson Grades
Virginia linebacker Nick Jackson leads the team in tackles. ~ Photo courtesy Matt Riley/Virginia Athletics Media Relations

The Virginia defense has gotten off to a solid start so far in 2022.

The Hoos rank 37th nationally in scoring defense (19.3 points allowed per game), 50th in total defense (350.0 yards allowed per game), 61st in run defense (133.0 yards allowed per game), 60th in pass defense (217 yards allowed per game), and tied for 11th in turnovers forced (9). While only the takeaways rank among the statistical elite top 15 or 20 programs, every single category is an improvement from the end-of-season numbers from last fall’s defensive nightmare. The Hoos’ rankings in 2021 in each of those categories finished at 103rd (31.8), 121st (466.0), 123rd (225.8), 88th (240.2), and t-93rd (14).

In the weekly grades column, Greg Waters pointed out one other interesting stat so far for UVA this fall. The run defense has improved within the games during the first four contests of the season. Check out the data from Greg’s Grades:


Virginia senior linebacker Nick Jackson, who leads the team and sits third in the ACC with 41 tackles so far this season, was pleased to hear that stat this week. He pointed to the summer workouts as the time when a ‘get stronger as you go’ mentality was fostered for the defense.

“I think it’s just mindset,” Jackson said. “As the game goes on, we’ve always prided ourselves, even when we were working out in the summer as the run goes on, we want to get stronger. We want to get faster. We want to increase our time. That’s what the mindset’s been so I’m glad those numbers are correlating right there.”

Jonas Sanker On Tackling

Another interesting stat from Sabre articles earlier in the week came from the Pro Football Focus (PFF) report. Sophomore safety Jonas Sanker initially received an 89.4 tackling grade in the data (it since was adjusted to 88.9), the