Entering Saturday’s game at No. 17 TCU, Virginia’s defense was one of four in the country that had yet to force a turnover this season. Freshman Maurice Canady put an end to that ignominious distinction with his first career interception late in the second quarter, and it led to defensive coordinator Jim Reid relaying a telling anecdote from the preseason.
The Cavaliers’ defense had just gotten torched in its second preseason scrimmage, and well, I’ll let Reid pick it up from there. He tells it much better.
“We came back to the office and we were hang-dogging it, you know what I mean,” Reid said. “I’ll never forget this: Jeff Hanson walks by my desk and my door and he looks in and he says, “We’re terrible.’ And I said, ‘I know.’
“Maurice Canady was really part of that terrible second scrimmage. I mean it was just horrendous. And brought him in: ‘You’re not at Varina High School anymore. You’ve got to backpedal, keep your shoulders square. You need to do it our way.’ And I tell you, that guy has been key against Richmond. He was monumental against Penn State. And he did a terrific job today.”
“We should all be thrown in jail because we got the steal of the 2012 class when we got him. He’s really good.”
After Reid told that story, a reporter reminded Canady of that preseason experience. The Richmond native then smiled.
“I had to look at the man in the mirror and really think about who I play for,” Canady said. “I had [Virginia cornerbacks coach Chip West] all in my ear and I got tired of it. I’ve been working hard ever since.”
Canady’s resurgence — he also had one interception called back because of review against TCU and another potential interception sail through his hands — was indicative of a unit that showed a good amount of resiliency after allowing nearly 600 yards, including eight plays of 20 or more yards, at Georgia Tech last week. Safety Brandon Phelps got burned when TCU wide receiver Brandon Carter turned a slant route into a 68-yard touchdown on the Horned Frogs’ first possession of the day and TCU ended the game with 438 yards. But unlike last week, the Cavaliers seemed to get their bearings from there, especially with an offense that committed four turnovers.
“We showed a little spunk,” Reid said. “I still think we were a little shaken from last week at the beginning of the game and landed back on our heels a little bit. Then I thought we . . . started playing with a little bit of a swagger and a little bit of confidence and finished up like we were excited and ready for next week.
“Because I’m gonna tell you what: You think those guys are fast. Wait until you see next week’s team.”
Virginia’s defense faces Louisiana Tech next week at Scott Stadium. The Bulldogs entered Saturday ranked No. 3 in the country averaging 56 points per game.
Linebacker LaRoy Reynolds did not make the trip to Fort Worth. Coach Mike London revealed after the game that the senior had a medical procedure performed Friday and that he would be back in the lineup “soon.” London indicated the injury occurred in last week’s loss at Georgia Tech but would not specify what the nature of the ailment.
In Reynolds’s place, redshirt freshman D.J. Hill finished with a team-high eight tackles.
As expected, running back Clifton Richardson (hamstring) was also not with the team this weekend.
The Cavaliers did get defensive end Bill Schautz, wide receiver Tim Smith and offensive guard Cody Wallace back from injuries Saturday. Schautz was the most effective, consistently putting pressure on TCU quarterback Casey Pachall throughout the afternoon.