Virginia Will See Opponents Run, Run, Run If D Can’t Stop It

Virginia Cavaliers Kam Butler
Kam Butler tries to get free for the Virginia defense. ~ Photo by Kris Wright/

Entering the Virginia football team’s season, conventional wisdom from outside observers assumed that the defense would be the strength of and tone-setters for the Hoos in 2023. That side of the ball, after all, had multiple returning players and fewer questions than other places on the roster.

So far, however, the UVA defense has not played as well as expected or hoped. The Cavaliers have allowed 42.5 points per game through two weeks, giving up 49 to high-powered Tennessee in the opener and 36 to James Madison at Scott Stadium. The Hoos only gave up that many points twice in 10 games last season.

The struggles could be related to one common thing. Run defense.

The Cavaliers have allowed 227.0 rushing yards per game (124th nationally) and 5.28 yards per carry (121st). While the Hoos may have been simply overmatched against the Volunteers in week one, JMU rallied in the fourth quarter by running right at the Virginia defense on a key drive. On the drive that cut the hosts’ lead to 35-30, the Dukes ran the ball on 6 of 8 plays and gained 7+ yards on 4 of the carries.