Virginia Defensive Coordinator Jim Reid said Wednesday that he simplified the defense too much last season in an attempt to make the players’ transition to a 4-3 base scheme smoother. The Cavaliers had operated out of a 3-4 under former Coach Al Groh.
In 2010, Virginia was among the worst teams in the nation at stopping the run (203.7 ypg allowed) and gave up more points per game (28.3) than all but two teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“In retrospect, I’m not sure simplifying it last year was a good thing,” Reid said. “You want to challenge players so they think all the time. Now, react fast. Make mistakes. But think. Sometimes if you try to simplify it a little too much, I think what happens is there’s not that stimulus to always be thinking ahead and knowing technique.
“It’s like, ‘Ok, here we go. Quarters coverage again. Oh, wait a minute now. This is not quarters coverage. It’s two-deep. Where’s the tight end? This is dog formation. This is pops formation. I’ve got to be …’ I’m not so sure that I stimulated these guys enough because we made some drastic and dramatic mistakes being very, very simple.”
Opposing teams ran the ball a total of 480 times last season. According to Reid, of the 413 plays in which opponents rushed for fewer than 10 yards, Virginia allowed “just a shade under three yards a carry.” In the remaining 67 plays – which went for more than 10 yards – Reid said the Cavaliers gave up an average of 21.6 yards per carry.
“So when we broke down,” he said, “we broke down dramatically.”
Reid expects that to change this year because his returning players are more experienced in their position, in the team’s defensive scheme and in the unique opposing offensive schemes that some ACC teams operate.
He also said he began implementing more complex aspects of the 4-3 during spring practice and plans to continue to add components during training camp. Reid said the Cavaliers added adjustments to the 4-3 during last season, but “we just never got around to running them and we didn’t emphasize and focus on them.”
“As you look at it, it’s like, ‘How did we make this mistake? How did this happen?’ We didn’t see the formation. We didn’t see the pattern developing,” Reid said. “So I think I have to make it more challenging for them.”