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Jim Reid: Virginia defense 'more inconsistent than I thought that we would be'

By Steve Yanda

Duke needed 86 seconds to drive 91 yards during a late fourth quarter drive Saturday that produced the game-winning touchdown against Virginia. Despite recording sacks on consecutive plays and at one point forcing a fourth and 20, the Cavaliers could not muster the stop they needed most to secure the victory.

Following a 55-48 loss in which Duke compiled 489 total yards, first-year Virginia Coach Mike London said “the growing-pain part” of the Cavaliers’ season was over, but the recent performance of his team’s defense would suggest otherwise. Virginia has allowed a combined 74 points in its last five quarters of play and has ceded 31.9 points per game against Division 1-A opponents this season.

"We're more inconsistent than I thought that we would be," Defensive Coordinator Jim Reid said Tuesday. "You have all of the written excuses and the coach-talk about well we've got injuries here and injuries there, it's not the same lineup. But I thought we would be a little bit more consistent than what we've been. I'll tell you one thing that I knew we would do and that I'm not surprised about at all is how hard we're playing."

To date, the exertion Virginia’s defense is dispensing has not translated into consistent production. The Cavaliers run defense has been porous – 209.9 yards allowed per game; No. 111 in the nation – and its pass defense has been hampered lapses in discipline, not to mention injuries to the team’s top two cornerbacks.

With senior cornerback Ras-I Dowling out due to a right knee injury and junior cornerback Chase Minnifield suffering from a sprained ankle, the Cavaliers had to rely more on safeties Rodney McLeod and Corey Mosley in coverage roles against Duke. The Blue Devils registered 259 passing yards Saturday, marking the third time in the past four games that a Virginia opponent has tallied more than 250 yards through the air.

Despite continuing to practice during the week and participate fully in warm-ups on Saturdays, Dowling has sat out all but three plays of Virginia's past four games.

"We plan that we're not going to have him, and, shoot, if we ever do have him it will be great," Reid said of Dowling.

As for the rest of Virginia's defense, Reid said he would like to see the Cavaliers be more consistent in some of their coverages.

"It's not really mistakes in knowing what to do, but a little bit with our technique exactly and just a little bit more consistent play with the aggressiveness," Reid said. "You know, when you take a look at the Southern California game, when you take a look at the Miami game, those are two games where we just weren't in fear of anything. We got up in people's grills and pressed them on defense when we had to and challenged them to throw the ball over our heads and beat us.

"Sometimes I think we get a little nervous as to exactly what to do and we play a little bit soft. Our pass rush we got back last week, but that had been absent for a couple weeks. So we just need more consistency in those plays that can be dramatic game-changers. If we can do that, I just think that we'll be in every game from a defensive standpoint."

By Steve Yanda  | November 10, 2010; 10:11 AM ET
Categories:  Football  
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