After finishing near the bottom of the ACC in several defensive categories in 2012, the Cavaliers made a change this offseason.
They turned the defense over to Jon Tenuta, who is promising to "turn up" the aggression on opposing offenses.
"I look at our defense as a pressure aspect to put some pressure on them and not just sit back and wait for them to see what happens, I make them try to make things happen," Tenuta explained. "We want to create problems for the front five and the quarterback and never let him set his feet in the passing game."
That pressure has been Tenuta's trademark during his time in places like Ohio State, N.C. State and Notre Dame, and his new players are excited about its potential.
"I actually love it because it's more attacking," junior linebacker Daquan Romero said. "We're dictating what the offense is doing instead of the offense dictating what we do."
"I love it. I love it. It fits right in to the mode of what a defense should be," fellow junior linebacker Henry Coley added. "A defense should be that thing. Defense wins championships and I truly believe that."
The hope at UVa is that the new philosophy will force teams into making mistakes, with the Cavaliers right there to take advantage of those mistakes. It's a strategy the 'Hoos say they'll get to work on right away.
"To the guys in practice, all we're going to be preaching all day is turnovers, turnovers, turnovers," Romero said. "Which is interceptions, which is punching at the ball whenever the offensive guys have it."
"We didn't have a lot of turnovers. Not a lot of sacks," sophomore defensive end Eli Harold added. "With Tenuta he's going to blitz a lot so if a linebacker can hold up a tackle, Eli might come free."
"This year we're going to take a lot more pride in looking to create turnovers as far as interceptions and sacks and I think with this scheme of defense and being aggressive, we'll be able to do that," junior safety Anthony Harris said.
Overhauling the defensive scheme from last season wasn't an overnight success, but by the end of spring practice, Tenuta and his players became comfortable with one another and where the unit is headed going into training camp.
"You know I had to learn them, they had to learn me. You just have to go from there and as time goes on you can see smiles on certain guys faces."
"It's just all about the energy we're bringing out there," Coley added. "The swag people like to play with and whatnot."
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