Virginia’s Head Coach, Bronco Mendenhall brought his attacking defensive style with him to Charlottesville after his long stint at BYU. Though the Cavaliers are not in the upper echelon of defense, the defensive staff at Virginia has found ways to cause havoc for opposing QBs. The program as a whole has been slowly rising their standard of play with 2019 being a high watermark accumulating nine wins. The most wins since 2007.
Defensively, the Cavs are not the most efficient defense in the country (#71 in DEff), but they made it count in “havoc stats” (3rd Down, TFLs, & Turnovers). The Cavs didn’t accumulate many turnovers (18/t-64th), but they were in the top 2t in TFLs (#22/7.1 a game) and Sacks (#9/3.29 a game). Their 3rd Down percentage was in the top third as well, with opponents only gaining a 1st Down on 36% of their attempts. Finally, the Cavs were 23rd in Busted Drives, which is the percentage of opponent offensive drives that earn zero or negative yards.
MQ will take a look at Virginia’s matchup with Notre Dame. The Irish were a top-25 offense in OEff (#25), winning 11 games, and only losing to Michigan and Georgia. Virginia would lose the battle but accumulated five TFLs and four sacks against a program that is known for offensive line play.
This particular pressure is a favorite among those attacking the middle of the line with a Bear Front. The Cavs align in a four-down Bear. They get to this from a typical four-down Jet Front (5s/3s) used by most four-down teams to attack pass-pro on 3rd Down. Mike shades the center to the RB’s side making it a five-man front. This type of alignment forces man blocking across the front. The RB will be in charge of the Will LB. This places a static blocker on a rusher coming from depth.