You are not logged in Login Or Sign-Up
Choosy Lover (EP) - 2017
Grittin Season Vol.1
TXL 11
It Was Almost Over
We The North @DjJJazzRealTrap
The Infamous Instrumentals
Virginia defense picks up its game
E-mail A Friend
Add to GlobalGrind!
Share on Facebook
The steady progression of Jon Tenuta’s defense took an important step in the right direction Saturday.

by Andrew Ramspacher

Or was it a bounce in the right direction?

After a 2013 season in which Virginia significantly increased its takeaways and sacks under a new coordinator, it still lacked points.

The Cavaliers went 13 games without scoring a defensive touchdown, until Eli Harold cashed in on a grand opportunity against Richmond with less than three minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Rush end Max Valles charged free from Michael Strauss’ blindside and smacked the Spiders quarterback, forcing a loose football in the process.

Harold, who also had a step on his opposing blocker, was in prime position.

And was properly equipped.

“I actually switched my gloves at halftime because the first ones were real slippery,” Harold said. “So I guess that was a great move by me.”


Well, Valles’ forced fumble rattled on the Scott Stadium surface until sticking to Harold’s fingers.

“It was amazing, man,” Harold said. “It took the first bounce and I said, please, just take that second bounce because usually when a football bounces, it goes and then the second bounce is high. The second bounce [was] high and it just landed in my gloves.”

A former high school wide receiver, Harold then easily glided to the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown, giving UVa a 31-6 lead.

The Wahoos (1-1) won, 45-13, before an announced crowd of 34,533.

“Eli was just glad he didn’t have to bend down to get it,” said linebacker Henry Coley. “It just came into his arms. But you get those lucky bounces.”

Hey, the Cavs will take them.

In a 28-20 week one loss to then-No. 7 UCLA, Virginia watched the Bruins take back three turnovers for scores.

Against Richmond, UVa had seven opportunities to do the same.

Virginia had seven takeaways, the most in program history since harassing South Carolina in familiar fashion in 2002.

“It just feels good,” said Quin Blanding, the freshman safety who got the takeaway-fest started with a second quarter interception. “We put in a lot of work throughout camp and that was our motto. Coach Tenuta always told us, ‘Turnovers is the key to our success.’ It just feels good to go out there and work what we practice and just go hard on the field and just hard on Saturdays.”

When Tenuta was hired to replace Jim Reid in January 2013, Virginia made the move to be a more aggressive unit.

Tenuta, who’s built a reputation for his pressure-heavy schemes over the course of his three-plus decades in college football, was an ideal choice.

In Reid’s last season, UVa produced just 12 takeaways and 17 sacks. Year one with Tenuta led to 21 takeaways and 28 sacks. Two games into year two, the Cavs are second nationally in takeaways with nine and 10th in sacks with seven.

No. 21 Louisville, which visits Scott Stadium next Saturday, has only been turned over twice this season. It’s yielded five sacks.

The Cardinals (2-0) will have plenty of frightening UVa tape to study this week.

“Going into the first ACC game, you want to put on film and show opposing coaches and players that you can do things, you can make plays,” said Harold, who’s tied for second on the team with three tackles for loss. “Last year, we really tried to stress causing turnovers. We tried to do whatever we could in practice to increase our turnovers.

“[Saturday], we had seven. We could have had nine. To show a team you can get after it like that, I feel it forces them to adjust the game plan and take some stuff out that they’re very good at.”