More on Award-Winning DE Matt Conrath
The 3-4 defensive alignment is not designed to generate impressive statistics for Virginia defensive end Matt Conrath, who spends more time on the interior than defensive ends in the 4-3. He also comes off the field in nickel and dime formations, when defensive ends have greater opportunity to record sacks.
That made it even more impressive that Conrath was awarded co-defensive lineman of the week by the ACC.
Conrath recorded four tackles and knocked down three passes in Saturday’s win over North Carolina. Coach Al Groh has praised Conrath’s performance throughout the season, which is often the best way to determine whether a defensive end excels in Virginia’s base defense. But Conrath’s numbers against the Tar Heels earned attention that often eludes the sophomore. Groh specifically referenced Conrath’s pass deflections.
“It’s just reading the quarterback’s eyes,” Conrath said. “If he’s about to release the ball, and I’m not going at him or anything, I try to get my hand up to help out.”
At 6 feet 7 and 270 pounds, Conrath’s long wingspan presents an obstacle for quarterbacks. Early in a play, Conrath must determine whether he’s going to make a sack or if he’s going to try to knock down the pass.
“It all just depends if you get pressure on the quarterback,” Conrath said. “If I can get to the quarterback, I’m going to try to get a sack. If I’m not going to get to him in time, I’m going to get my hands up.”
The Cavaliers host Indiana this week. The Hoosiers recruited Conrath while he played at St. Rita High School in the Chicago area. His lead pursuer was Indiana Coach Bill Lynch, who was then an assistant coach. Conrath never gave Indiana serious consideration and does not remember if he was offered a scholarship.
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