March 21, 2010
CHARLOTTESVILLE — During Al Groh’s nine seasons as UVa’s football coach, his defenses were routinely described as big and powerful. Rarely were the Cavaliers called fast on defense, and the new coaching staff is trying to change that.
Mike London and defensive coordinator Jim Reid installed the 4-3 scheme — Groh preferred the 3-4 — and have moved safeties to linebacker, linebackers to end and ends to tackle.
Among those who changed positions were 6-4, 225-pound Ausar Walcott and 6-2, 220-pound LaRoy Reynolds. Both were at safety in 2009; they’re outside linebackers this spring.
“They like my size, and they like my speed coming down,” said Reynolds, who played special teams a true freshman last season.
“Basically, Coach Reid just wanted the outside linebackers to be faster, so he brought both of us down.”
Linebackers coach Vincent Brown, who was at the University of Richmond with London in 2008 and ’09, said the biggest adjustment for Walcott and Reynolds “is that things happen so much faster for them. They’re closer to the action. But both those kids have done a really good job the first couple of days of just playing fast. That’s the mindset right now. They have the athleticism. We want them to play fast, and we’ll teach them the techniques and the reads. They’ll get it. They’ve done a good job.”
Reynolds called the move to the 4-3 “very exciting.”
“There’s a lot of speed,” he said. “I think that’s what it’s based around. It’s lot of speed and a lot of moving around, everybody flying fast to the ball.”
Brown’s corps of linebackers is notable for its inexperience. Only middle linebacker Steve Greer has played much, and he was a redshirt freshman in 2009. Walcott, Reynolds, Billy Schautz, Connor McCartin and Tucker Windle also will be sophomores this fall, and Aaron Taliaferro is a rising junior.
“But it’s a great group of kids,” Brown said. “All those guys have done a real good job. The mindset right now, we’re just trying to develop a go-hard, go-fast attitude, and all of them have the ability to help us in some capacity.
“We’ll just see how it goes throughout the course of the spring. We’ll see if the guys can make the transition. This guy might move over to an inside spot, and this guy might move over to an outside spot. The whole defense, we’re trying to get fast. We’re trying to get them all to play fast.”