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Watch head coach Al Groh as he talks about his team’s training camp preparations

Orange Starters’ Jerseys Not Distributed Yet

With only five returning starters on defense this season, there will be plenty of competition for playing time and starting roles throughout training camp.

The decisions to be made regarding personnel have caused head coach Al Groh to keep the orange starters’ jerseys under wraps for the time being.

“(We’ll distribute the orange jerseys) once we establish who the first unit is going to be,” Groh said. “While we’re still in a very competitive stage for playing time, we’ll withhold them for a while.”

Three-year reserve Alex Field is having a good camp in his attempt to secure a starting nodas well as the orange jerseyat the end spot vacated by Chris Long. Field appeared in all 13 games last season and made 11 tackles, including two sacks.

“He’s doing very well,” Groh said of Field. “He’s certainly on the top of the list, but I would say that other than anybody who’s been a well-established previous starter, in fairness to the team of competition, I wouldn’t say that anybody would have a spot locked up.”

If anybody has a starting position already assured, it’s senior safety Byron Glaspy. Glaspy ranked 14th among ACC defensive backs in tackling a year ago.

“I would say not only does he have the inside track but he has got ownership of it,” Groh said. “He’s a real good player. He is one of our most alert, knowledgeable players. (He) sees to it that we are properly lined up, that all the checks and adjustments are made in a timely way.

“The game really makes good sense to him. He is set and that’s really, I would say, one of the solid spots on the team.”

The Kicking Game

For five of the last six seasons, the Cavaliers have seen consistency and reliability in the placekicking game. The team enters this season with a competition not waged in a long time as three players vie to claim the responsibility for kick scoring duties. Redshirt freshman Chris Hinkebein is the only one of the trio with so much as a training camp appearance. The other twosenior Yannick Reyering, an erstwhile soccer player at UVa, and freshman Robert Randolphare entering just their second week with the team.

The lack of experience had been cause for concern, but the unit is progressing according to Groh.

“I’m not trying to be funny with this” he said, “I’m just saying it exactly the way I heard one of our coaches say it the other day and it describes it well. From the spring, we’ve gone from horrible to hopeful.

“We’re going to be doing quite a bit of live kicking throughout the course of camp to find out what those things are. Under whatever circumstances we’ve been kicking, the accuracy is significantly up from all three. We’re making progress in that area.”

“We want to find out what’s the range … (at which) the kicker is going to be consistently accurate. Then after that you find out how far back you can go with that.”

The Quarterbacks

Lifted by eight appearances by Peter Lalich last year, the quarterbacks as a whole are more experienced than the kickers but not by much. Like the kickers, the top-three quarterback hopefuls, Scott Deke, Marc Verica and Lalich, are building turns during training camp.

“(We’ve seen) good progress (from them),” Groh said. “That’s about it. They’re all working hard, they’re all progressing. As I’ve said on a couple of occasions, we’re not keeping a daily scorecard on them. We’re looking at the body of work and we’re giving everybody plenty of opportunities to show us how the club will best operate.”

While building turns, Groh indicates there is no need to make a quick decision regarding the starter at this time.

“I think in this circumstance, because none of the players have played an appreciable amount of time,” he noted, “that unless something dramatic happens right away where some guy all of a sudden for five or six days is Holy smoke, this is really different,’ … it’s probably the best thing for the team to provide ourselves with the opportunity to get as much input as we can as not to make an inappropriately quick decision.”

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