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Familiarity with triple-option offense doesn't allow Jim Reid more restful sleep this week

The Virginia football team returned to practice Tuesday afternoon and continued its preparations for Saturday's contest at Georgia Tech. The Cavaliers spent three days during their bye week three weeks ago getting some initial looks at the triple option offense Georgia Tech runs, but according to Defensive Coordinator Jim Reid, "in the practice today, it looked like we were starting all over again."

Georgia Tech Coach Paul Johnson's triple option offense is unique and, thus, difficult for opposing teams to prepare for in a week's span. But Reid is a little more familiar than most defensive coordinators with the offensive schemes the Yellow Jackets employ.

Prior to the 2000 season -- when Reid was the head coach at 1-AA Richmond -- the Spiders lost a number of scholarships due to Title IX regulations, Reid said, which made recruiting more difficult. He felt at the time that he had the personnel to operate the triple option, so he went down to visit Johnson -- who then was the head coach at Georgia Southern -- and Johnson educated Reid and members of Reid's staff on the nuances of that style of offense.

Richmond finished the 2000 season with a 10-3 record, won the Atlantic 10 championship and advanced to quarterfinals of the NCAA 1-AA tournament. Reid attributed part of his team's success that season to the help Johnson provided before the campaign began.

Reid then was asked how his intimate knowledge of the triple option offense will help him prepare the Virginia defense for what it will face Saturday at Georgia Tech.

"Well, it doesn't help your psyche very much because if you believe in the triple option, you believe that it can never be stopped if you make the right read," Reid said. "What's really tremendous to watch is the precision of the reads and the ball-handling, especially of (quarterback) Josh Nesbitt and (running back) Anthony Allen. You can tell they're older players. You can tell they've been in the system. The ball's in and it's out, and the reads are quick. And what's amazing is the quick hands and the quick pitch of Josh Nesbitt when he's pitching to the A-back.

"It's just really terrific to -- well, it's not terrific to watch if you're playing them, but it's fun to watch if you're not playing them."

Reid said several members of Virginia's scout team will alternate handling the responsibility of imitating Nesbitt -- who ranks No. 2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference in rushing -- in practice this week, and they'll start plays ahead of where they're supposed to be in an effort to mimick Nesbitt's quickness.

"If I were to say that we had somebody like Josh Nesbitt, then I would be not telling you the truth," Reid said. "You're not going to be able to imitate the speed and the crisp execution of the Georgia Tech triple option. You're just not going to be able to do it. People have tried to imitate that for years, and they can't do it. We've been working on assignments and doing the best we can in terms of trying to see the speed."

Reid lauded Georgia Tech's abiliy to block on the perimeter, as well as the precision with which the Yellow Jackets execute their schemes. Echoing sentiments expressed by Coach Mike London in recent days, Reid said Virginia defenders will have to be extremely conscious of sticking to their assignments on Saturday.

"If you could someway, somehow prevent a big play -- and big plays are made when you're really missing assignments," Reid said, referring to Virginia's defensive keys to the game. "You know, once in a while a fullback will just burst through there, and people are so concerned about whether the quarterback is keeping the ball or the quarterback is pitching the ball, if you miss the fullback, he'll be gone, because people will run by him ...

"It's hard to practice. We haven't practiced an awful lot of it. We did it a lot (Tuesday) in individuals. There's a number of things that can't happen, and it keeps you up at night."

NOTE: Junior strong safety Rodney McLeod participated in practice Tuesday, according to Reid. McLeod left Virginia's 20-point loss to Florida State last weekend in the first quarter after suffering what appeared to be a head/neck injury while attempting to make a tackle. London had said Sunday that McLeod would undergo examinations by team doctors Monday that would determine whether he would be cleared to practice this week.

By Steve Yanda  | October 5, 2010; 7:15 PM ET
 
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