Aug. 25, 2010
CHARLOTTESVILLE — UVa’s base defense during Al Groh’s tenure as head coach was the 3-4. Most college teams prefer the 4-3, and that’s what Mike London installed after taking over for Groh in December.
Landon Bradley believes practicing regularly against the 4-3 will help the Cavaliers.
“We’re going to see mostly a 4-3 defense in the games,” said Bradley, a returning starter at offensive tackle, “and before we would have our third string or our second-string guys running the 4-3 defense, and they didn’t understand the 4-3 defense. Now all of our guys, they understand the 4-3 defense, so we can put the best we have against the best they have, 1’s on 1’s, running the best schemes against one another.
“Iron sharpens iron, and every person’s getting better. And I think in the games it’s going to carry over. Before it was like,’ Coach, I never saw that look.’ Well, we’ve seen it now, because we’ve had to go against it every day.”
Bradley lines up on the left side, which means he’s often matched in practice against Cameron Johnson, Virginia’s starter at right defensive end. The 6-4, 265-pound junior is the Wahoos’ most gifted pass-rusher.
“Cam Johnson is a great player,” said Bradley, a redshirt junior. “He’s been the best defensive end that I’ve played against since I’ve been playing. Obviously when I was playing scout team [in 2007] and I was getting picked up out of my shoes by Chris Long, that was [another matter].”
Johnson started at outside linebacker last season in UVa’s 3-4. He had 5 tackles for loss, including 2 sacks.
During London’s first stint as a Virginia assistant, the team’s most dominant pass-rusher was outside linebacker Darryl Blackstock. In three seasons, Blackstock totaled 27 sacks, third-most in school history. Like Blackstock before him, Johnson wears No. 56 at UVa.
“I remember the Darryl Blackstocks of the world that used to rush here and play here,” London said. “At the end of a game, fourth-and-whatever, he was the guy that was rushing and making it happen. Cam’s got that type of ability. Cam’s just has to want to do it every snap, every snap.”