It seems that every defensive coordinator talks about bringing in an aggressive defensive scheme when they get hired, but if you asked Virginia head coach Mike London to describe his defense last season under former defensive coordinator Jim Reid, chances are that aggressive would not be among his first adjectives chosen.
After parting ways with Reid in the off season, London decided to bring in Jon Tenuta (former defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech and Notre Dame), who's name is synonymous with aggressive play calls and schemes. According to The Daily Progress, during Tenuta's past ten years on the defensive side of the ball his teams have averaged just under 25 takeaways a year (which would rank them among the top 37 teams this past season), and over 34 sacks per season (which would rank in the top 15 nationally this past season).
“We’re not just going to stand still," London said of Tenuta's system. "We’re not going to be a hood ornament where we just sit there and look nice. I think you’ll see an aggressive approach to the defense. You’ll see corners having to cover and you’ll see rush guys having to be relied on to put pressure on the quarterback.”
The players are liking the changes as well, in part due to the opportunities that the aggressive scheme brings with it.
“Having a defensive coordinator that you know is going to play an aggressive style, you know that style of play is going to cause turnovers, opportunities for interceptions, sacks, which creates a lot of energy and creates an exciting game.” one player noted of the new scheme.
Providing that kind of mental edge and excitement may be just the kind of spark that Virginia needs to get back in the ballpark of their eight win season in 2011. Their 2013 schedule looks to be in their favor as London and his crew will play the toughest teams on their schedule (Oregon, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Virginia Tech) at home in Scott Stadium.