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In retrospect, Virginia secondary underwent too much shuffling against Duke

By Steve Yanda

Junior cornerback Chase Minnifield was able to play just more than a dozen snaps Saturday at Duke before having to leave the game due to an ankle sprain suffered in practice earlier that week. With Minnifield unavailable and senior cornerback Ras-I Dowling out once again due to a lingering knee injury, several members of the Virginia secondary were shuffled to unfamiliar positions and asked to fill those roles for the remainder of the game.

Having had some time to look film of Virginia's 55-48 loss, Defensive Coordinator Jim Reid said Wednesday that he wished he would not have made the positional switches he did against the Blue Devils.

Facing a pass-happy Duke offense that frequently utilized at least three wide receivers on each play, Reid elected to have junior strong safety Rodney McLeod serve as the extra cornerback in nickel (five defensive backs) situations, a position Minnifield usually fills. Junior free safety Corey Mosley took on McLeod's original role, and reserve safeties Dom Joseph and Trey Womack alternated filling in at Mosley's typical spot.

"If we had it to do over again, looking back, we probably would have left Rodney where he had been all season and moved another player up to play the nickel position," Reid said. "What we ended up doing was making two position changes. Really we could have kept four people the same, because we're used to playing without Ras-I right now."

If given a second chance, Reid said he would have inserted true freshman cornerback Rijo Walker as the nickel back. McLeod and Mosley struggled at times Saturday -- particularly against play-action passes -- performing the duties thrust upon them mid-game.

But there were also times, Reid noted, when McLeod and Mosley did well in their unfamiliar roles. Mosley finished with a team-high 10 tackles. McLeod finished with four tackles and a pass breakup.

Still, in retrospect, Reid said he would have rather had Walker -- a more natural cover man -- fill Minnifield's shoes in nickel situations against Duke.

Walker "is a freshman, but he's really mature," Reid said. "He's really competitive. I think he's a real good player."

Regarding Minnifield's status for Virginia's upcoming game against Maryland, Reid said: "We expect him to play a lot more this week. I hope so."

By Steve Yanda  | November 11, 2010; 8:22 AM ET
Categories:  Football  
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