Virginia defense ready to ‘hold the fort’ while offense re-tools

Zane Zandier returns for the Cavs. He led Virginia in tackles with 108 a year ago. (Virginia Athletics)

Charlottesville, VA. – In 2019 Bryce Perkins served as the spark to the Cavaliers flame, a dynamic game changer for the offense. But the defense brought the heat as well, ranking third in the conference in sacks. But that success came with a trio of stars including NFL draft pick Bryce Hall, Jordan Mack and Eli Hanback. With those three moving on, the challenge now is to keep rising to the occasion and the general feeling is that they will.

“This is really that fifth year that these are the guys that we’ve recruited these are the guys that we’ve brought in and we’ve been able to develop them and kind of build them into this defense that we wanted,” Cavaliers Inside Linebackers coach Shane Hunter said.

Zane Zandier returns as one of the Cavaliers leaders having ‘brought the boom’ in 2019 with a team leading 108 tackles.

“Yeah we’re taking more of a leadership role with the players than the coaches telling us you know what to do and how to do it, it’s kind of been on us to you know set the standard,” Zandier says.

UVA has one of its deepest linebacker groups in recent history where experience bodes well which benefits sophomore Nick Jackson who played in each game as a true freshman last season.

"Bryce Hall wants told us like you can’t be fire proof until you’ve been fire tested and I think this throwing me in the fire. I learned a lot last year and had to come back and get a lot stronger and get ready for this season,” Jackson says.

Zandier and Jackson work to keep the inside on lock. There won’t be wiggle room on the outside either, with the likes of Charles Snowden and Noah TAylor waiting to lay the hammer down at every opportunity.

The Cavaliers open the season at Lane Stadium when the take on the Virginia Tech Hokies for the Commonwealth Cup on September 19th at 7:30 p.m.

About the Authors:

Eric is no stranger to the Roanoke Valley. He is a Roanoke native and proud graduate of William Fleming High School.

John serves as the Sports Director at WSLS 10. From Virginia Tech, to NASCAR and everything in between, WSLS 10 Sports covers the names making big plays in the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB.