Defensively the "Cardiac" Cavaliers proved well last year, led by defensive end Chris Long. But now with Long gone, who will lead a defense full of youth and inexperience?
We'll start with the Defensive Line.
Well at the end of last years successful season, the Hoos' DL looked good. Not great, but pretty good with Jeffrey Fitzgerald lining up at end and promising recruit Scott Gottschalk coming in to replace Long. The team lost Allen Billyk at nose tackle, but as with the Long situation Nate Collins is planned to take his spot.
But, everything doesn't always go as planned.
Fitz dropped out leaving the Cavaliers with Alex Field. Field has experience, but is a large step down from the impressive play of Fitzgerald, leaving the Cavs with yet another question mark.
So what do we have left? We have Alex Field, Nate Collins and Scott Gottschalk starting for the DL. The success of the defensive line for this year will be dependant mostly upon the coaching of these young players. If they learn quickly and fight through the pressure, then we should see a fair amount of success out of the DL this year.
I believe that the new guys will be ok, maybe not as good as second overall draft pick Chris Long, but they'll be good for a couple sacks and a fair amount of pressure on the QB.
Now onto the Linebackers.
Focus strongly on the Cavs LB's for the upcoming season, for this will be the strong point of the defense.
The Hoos' return three out of four linebackers, Jon Copper, Antonio Appleby, and Clint Sintim. Jermaine Dias is the only casualty that the LB's suffer and he'll most likely be replaced by either J'Courtney Williams or Jared Detrick, both of which have little experience but very high expectations.
The linebackers are the only part of the defense I feel sure will do well. Led by Sintim and Copper, the linebackers should perform very well against teams with play calling complimentary to the run. Look for Sintim to be in the running for the Lombardi award at the conclusion of this season.
And finally the lowly Defensive Backs.
The team is in desperate need of defensive backs. They have virtually no good players to field at this position, yet again. The two good players that they had, Nate Lyles and Byron Glaspy, are now gone. This leaves them with Trey Womack and Mike Parker, who I doubt will play, and Vic Hall. Vic Hall should still be a quarterback. He has yet to pick up on the basic fundamentals of the cornerback position. Ras-I Dowling has shown that he can be good in time once he gains a little more experience.
But yet again, the backfield sucks and will continue to suck until Groh finds better talent.
This year's defense will be very close in comparison to the Minnesota Vikings. The Cavs will be pretty good against the run, whereas they will fail to prevent the pass for yet another year. UVa fans should expect to see a fairly decent defense that could get better with time. We all just need to pray that the DB's are better than I've predicted, but right now, it's not looking good.