After earning very high marks during its Week One performance against FCS William & Mary, the Virginia defense turned in a good – but not outstanding – showing Saturday at Indiana. Here’s a rundown of how the Cavaliers fared, based on some of the goals Defensive Coordinator Jim Reid said they try to meet each game:
Rushing yards allowed
Goal – 105 or less
Indiana – 148
Passing yards allowed
Goal – 225 or less
Indiana – 171
Total yards allowed
Goal – 330 or less
Indiana – 319
Goal – at least 3
Indiana – 1
As a side note on the lone three-and-out the Cavaliers forced Saturday night, it preceded the Indiana punt in which the ball bounced off a Virginia player and was recovered by the Hoosiers. So the Cavaliers defense was rewarded for its briefest spurt of the night by immediately having to go back out onto the field. The Indiana offensive possession after the Virginia punt return mishap covered 19 yards in five plays and resulted in a touchdown to cut the Cavaliers’ lead to six.
Improving the run defense was a primary concern for Reid entering this season. Particularly, he wanted his players to decrease the number of rushing plays the defense allowed in which the opponent gained 10 or more yards. Last year, Virginia gave up 67 such rushing gains. During their 40-3 win Sept. 3 over FCS William & Mary, the Cavaliers allowed three runs of 10 yards or more and none of them were longer than 12 yards.
Against Indiana on Saturday, the Virginia defense gave up four rushing plays of 10 yards or more. Two of them went for 20 or more yards.
On a brighter note, the Cavaliers forced three turnovers on Saturday, which bumps their season total up to five. Virginia forced 16 turnovers all of last season, which was the worst mark in the ACC.
Also, the Cavaliers recorded three sacks against Indiana. Senior cornerback Chase Minnifield tallied the first full sack of his career in the first quarter. Junior defensive tackle Will Hill notched a sack late in the third quarter that capped the Virginia defense’s lone three-and-out of the night.
And senior defensive end Cam Johnson delivered the hit of the night when he sacked Indiana quarterback Edward Wright-Baker with 73 seconds remaining in regulation and the score tied. Not only did Johnson sack Wright-Baker on third and 5, he also stripped the ball from Wright-Baker’s hands and recovered it himself at the Indiana 14 yard-line.