William & Mary tailback Jonathan Grimes rushed for a 10-yard gain on the Tribe’s first play from scrimmage Saturday, an ominous start for a Virginia defense that was porous against the run a season ago.
Cavaliers Defensive Coordinator Jim Reid compiled all 67 of the runs the Virginia gave up last season that resulted in a gain for the opposing offense of 10 yards or more into one strip of film and reviewed it frequently in the offseason. He believed that if the Cavaliers could cut down on the number of big rushing plays they allowed, their stoutness would improve significantly.
Indeed, after Grimes’s first carry, Virginia settled down and proved stingy the rest of the game. Including that first play from scrimmage, William & Mary recorded three runs Saturday of 10 yards or more. None were longer than 12 yards. Grimes – a preseason FCS all-American – finished with 20 yards on six carries.
The Virginia defense met a number of its weekly goals against the Tribe. The Cavaliers aim not to allow more than 105 rushing yards per game; William & Mary rushed for 48 yards. Virginia does not want to give up more than 225 passing yards per contest; the Tribe threw for 121 yards.
Reid said during training camp that he would prefer his defense force at least three three-and-outs per game. On Saturday, the Cavaliers made William & Mary punt after three offensive plays four times.
“We did what we had to do, as far as on the defensive line we dominated their offensive line,” Reid said after the game Saturday. “We played pretty well in coverage, but we’re going to face much faster receivers in the weeks to come, starting next week (at Indiana).
“I can tell you one thing that we didn’t do. They were getting rid of the ball in three or five steps, but we really didn’t get a sack. We were kind of hoping to get a little closer to the quarterback, and we were running a couple of schemes where we were emphasizing coverage and not rush. And we mixed it up. We blitzed a little bit on first down, which we hadn’t done before. So it was a good change-up, and it was very successful for us. And the players executed very well.”
Virginia – which ranked No. 10 in the ACC in sacks (19) last season – was credited with one quarterback takedown against William & Mary. Redshirt freshman middle linebacker Henry Coley earned the first sack of his career in the fourth quarter Saturday.