Friday, August 6, 2010
Opening camp: Virginia
By ESPN.com staff
Schedule: Practice starts at 3:45 p.m. and the first five are open to the public.
What’s new: Everything. New coach, new coordinators, new schemes, philosophies and attitudes.
Sidelined: Sophomore guard Aaron Van Kuiken is out with a wrist injury but is expected back by September. Redshirt defensive end Brent Urban is coming off knee surgery. Academically, today is the last day of summer school finals, so grades won’t be reported until early next week.
Key battle: Running back. The top four rushers from 2009 are gone. Perry Jones ended the spring at the lead tailback spot, but he faces competition this month from Keith Payne, Torrey Mack, freshman Kevin Parks, and Dominique Wallace, who missed the second half of last season with a foot injury.
New on the scene: The 4-3 defense. First-year defensive coordinator Jim Reid is taking the Cavaliers back to the traditional defense.
Breaking out: Junior inside linebacker Aaron Taliaferro, who got all of Steve Greer’s snaps this past spring while Greer was out with an injury. Taliaferro was previously buried on the depth chart, but he really impressed the coaching staff enough to push Greer this month.
Don’t forget about: Tight end Joe Torchia. Virginia has a great tradition of tight ends, but last year the staff deviated from it by implementing a spread offense. Torchia only had 15 catches in 12 games for what is usually a much more productive spot.
All eyes on: Quarterback Marc Verica and how he fits into the new pro-style offense. Verica said he is much more comfortable in this scheme, but he hasn’t been a dependable starter since 2008, when he threw eight touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He made far fewer mistakes this spring.
Quotable: "This is exactly what I know about him: that as a father, this is who you get down on your knees and pray that your daughter brings home some day. That is the type of character that he is. You would be so proud to call Ras-I Dowling your son, and I've told his family that." -- Defensive coordinator Jim Reid on cornerback Ras-I Dowling.