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Cavaliers preparing to face fast Florida State defensive front

Virginia will take on a Florida State defense Saturday at Scott Stadium that leads the nation with 19 sacks. Through four games, 11 different Seminoles have registered at least one sack, and the unit’s collective speed and athleticism will stand in stark contrast to the 1-AA opponent the Cavaliers faced this past weekend.

Junior left tackle Landon Bradley will get plenty of face time Saturday with Florida State sophomore defensive end Brandon Jenkins, who leads the Seminoles with 4.5 sacks. Bradley said Monday that many of the concepts and much of the experience the offensive linemen gained playing a similarly quick and agile Southern California defensive front Sept. 11 will prove beneficial while they prepare for Florida State (3-1).

“When we were going into the USC game, everybody was talking about how their defensive line, they’re everything,” Bradley said. “They’re all prospects for the NFL and everything. So you’ve just got to go into the mind-set of, I mean, we’ve put several linemen in the NFL here on the offensive line, so you’ve got to be able to understand that we all weren’t recruited for no reason.”

Virginia (2-1) gave up two sacks against USC and has allowed five sacks through three games this season. Two of Virginia’s opponents thus far have been from the 1-AA division, and Bradley acknowledged a significant difference exists between the defenders he faced against Richmond and Virginia Military Institute and the ones he’ll see Saturday.

“Going into this game, you’re looking at more of a USC-type defense that is running a four-down scheme,” Bradley said. “Their players are bigger, stronger, faster – something you would see with a top program [ellipses] If you’re going to block a (Florida State) linebacker, you’ve got to understand he’s going to be a lot faster than VMI or Richmond guys.”

Bradley said that against slower pass rushers an offensive lineman can afford to take a wider angle to meet the defender and make his block. But against speedy pass rushers -- such as those on Florida State's defense -- offensive linemen must take acute angles and meet the oncoming defenders as quickly as possible. In essense, offensive linemen must be more proactive than reactive when opposed by intense speed.

Florida State did a lot of blitzing and scheming in its first two games, according to Coach Mike London. In order to adequately simulate Florida State's speed on defense, London said Virginia "might have to line up offsides, get all the way into the backfield already" during practices this week.

London said that when he was the defensive line coach with the NFL’s Houston Texans in 2005, he asked defensive tackle Travis Johnson – the team’s first round draft pick that year out of Florida State – about the schemes the Seminoles employed.

“The whole mind-set is they get up the field,” London said. “They rush the passer. That’s what they do [ellipses] So it’s going to be a challenge to provide protection for (fifth-year senior quarterback) Marc (Verica). So whether that means some out-of-pocket stuff or whether that means quick passing game or whatever it be, we’ve got to find a solution to try to do something to help us because those ends, and the two guys inside particularly, they get great push up front.”

By Steve Yanda  | September 27, 2010; 5:43 PM ET
 
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