“Defensively, we’re better than what we were last year, but we’re still nowhere where we need to be. This team that we’re getting ready to play is first or second in BCS football in putting points and yardage up on the board. So, can we talk again next week?”
— Virginia Coach Mike London
London provided that response to a question about the state of his defense at this point in the season, and the coach’s response was telling. The Cavaliers have taken steps forward defensively from where they were at the end of last season, but how much have they actually improved?
Virginia fans are about to find out.
No offense to William & Mary or Indiana or Southern Mississippi or Idaho, but the true gauge of Virginia’s defense is how the Cavaliers perform in ACC play. In 2010, opposing ACC offenses never were more efficient than when they faced Virginia. And the Cavaliers’ defensive showing in a 28-17 loss Sept. 17 at North Carolina – in which Virginia allowed 222 rushing yards – was not all that encouraging.
To be clear, Georgia Tech owns a very proficient offense, and should the Yellow Jackets perform well offensively Saturday, that should not be interpreted as a complete indictment on the Virginia defense. Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense is unique and difficult to prepare for, even with an extra week to do so. The Yellow Jackets rank No. 6 in the nation in scoring offense (46.5 points per game) and No. 4 in total offense (553.5 yards per game).
Regardless of how the Cavaliers’ defense performs Saturday, said performance will provide a truer indication of where the unit stands than did its performances in any of its non-conference contests earlier this season.
All that said, how do you think Virginia will fare against No. 12 Georgia Tech? As always, feel free to expand on your vote in the comments section below and/or e-mail me your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.