MIAMI, Fl. – The story of Virginia's defense at this Orange Bowl has to be looked at like an open wound. That after the news that their All-ACC team linebacker, Jordan Mack, will not play in the game because of a foot injury.
More than half of Virginia’s 11 defensive starters from the beginning of the season are not available for this Orange Bowl. The secondary in particular has been hit hard, hemorrhaging talent for more than half the season.
“You do want to play for your teammates, you want play to at a level where you don’t make the mistakes on the field,” said Cavaliers safety Joey Blount.
“You’re playing your best ball and and I think the opportunity in front of us it’s outstandingly great.”
The Cavs attempts to stop the bleeding, haven’t worked well. They’ve given up 1000 yards through the air in the last three games, including 408 to Clemson, leaving the pass happy Gators ready to chomp.
“It’s critical to just keep the points down, you know, when you look at Florida, you know, and the amount of guys they have with the amount of receptions that they have and how they spread the ball out. Any of those guys can score at any time,” said Cavaliers defensive coordinator Nick Howell.
“I think that’s one of the strengths of our team as you know we are very great athletes on the outside and we try to get our athletes matched up in situations where they’ll be successful,” said Gators quarterback Kyle Trask.
“You know, they play sound,” said Gators wide receiver Van Jefferson.
“They have a lot of schemes that they mix up to get us wondering. So I think ‚you know, we just got to do a good job executing like you said they have a great team, the coach is great, they’re well coached, so I think it’s going be a challenge for us but we accept the challenge and we’ll be ready.”
Virginia has relied on exotic pressures to put the quarterback in uncomfortable positions and that has helped cover up defensive secondary injury issues. They’ll have to bring a lot of that against Florida if they would like to get the victory.