Virginia Defensive Coordinator Jim Reid said Friday that redshirt junior Steve Greer “is the solid No. 1” at middle linebacker. Greer and redshirt freshman Henry Coley had been listed as interchangeable on the team’s post-spring depth chart.
Reid said Coley definitely is going to receive playing time this season, though possibly at other linebacker spots. Reid had said in April that Coley spent time during spring practice at both the middle and strong-side linebacker positions.
Here are some other notes from Reid’s teleconference on Friday:
Virginia tallied 19 sacks last season, a total that ranked No. 10 in the ACC. Reid said that with better health and more consistent play from the defensive backfield this fall, the Cavaliers should improve that mark. Virginia played nearly all of last season without Ras-I Dowling, who had been expected to be the team’s top cornerback.
Reid said a team can’t have a quality pass rush without solid pass coverage, and vice versa.
“We didn’t have many coverage sacks last year,” Reid said. “I think if we can get tighter coverage, more consistent coverage, then our sack totals will go up.” …
Speaking of pass coverage, Reid was asked Friday about the situation at the cornerback position opposite senior Chase Minnifield.
Sophomore Rijo Walker had been listed on the post-spring depth chart as a starter at that cornerback spot, but freshman Demetrious Nicholson has taken reps with the first team defense from the first day of training camp, something Nicholson said the coaches had talked to him about during his recruitment process.
“We’ve got to find out who of these young guys are going to be able to play because there’s a lot on the line here, with a redshirt year and everything of that nature,” Reid said. Nicholson “has got a real good opportunity here with (the first team defense) to get some reps.”
Reid noted that Walker recorded an interception during Friday morning’s practice session and that Walker is “certainly going to get a lot of playing time” this fall. …
During the team’s media day on Aug. 3, Reid had said he likely would play senior defensive end Cam Johnson – who has sickle cell trait – between 45-50 snaps per game.
Johnson’s performance has impressed the coaching staff through the first week of training camp, particularly in regards to his endurance. On Friday, Reid said Johnson now is slated to play between 50-55 snaps per game.
The Cavaliers defense was on the field an average of 68.1 snaps per game during the team’s eight conference games in 2010.