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Countdown to Virginia Football: #29 Eric Gallon

Virginia Media Relations

Position: OLB
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 215
Year: Sophomore
Hometown: Lakeland, FL
Twitter: @KiiDEG12

Yesterday, we talked about the team’s depth at ILB. One of the things we mentioned was C.J. Stalker backing up Zach Bradshaw, which was the case late in the season and will likely be the case this year. However, the only reason Stalker was playing last is because Eric Gallon was injured. After Bradshaw was ejected from the Syracuse game for targeting, Gallon came in to replace him. Gallon also started the following week against UNC, with Bradshaw suspended for the first half. Gallon, though, injured his foot early in that contest and missed the rest of the season.

Prior to the Syracuse game, Gallon had seen action in 3 games but only on special teams. In total, Gallon had 1 tackle on the year, which came early in the UNC game. That tackle came 15 yards downfield on a WR screen pass.

Though it is, of course, disappointing to give up 15 yards on a WR screen pass, that was not Gallon’s fault. We know that screen passes often worked against Jon Tenuta defenses because of his incessant blitzing. The fact that Gallon was able to make a play 15 yards downfield is not surprising, as he runs very well. His straight line speed is very good for a LB, though he’s not the quickest in space. Surprising, since his father was an All-Big 8 RB at Kansas St 25 years ago (and is currently the RBs coach at Youngstown State).

Gallon’s strengths are his reads and his reactions, though he does have a tendency to overrun plays. This is often an issue for faster defender who don’t have the greatest change-of-direction speed. He’ll learn to slow down a bit as plays develop. Film study will also help him avoid this problem, because he’ll know where the play is going. Hopefully, being a coach’s son, he’s big on film study.

Below is his senior year highlight film. There’s a few highlights here of him as a TE, but mostly it is his defensive highlights. Gallon obviously isn’t the biggest of LBs, though he’s stronger than he appears. He’s not the most physical of tacklers, which is surely something the coaching staff has been working on. Seriously, watch the video below and see how many times Gallon is grabbing somebody’s jersey and bringing them down. This will not work with stronger college RBs, and also opens him up to potential horse collar penalties.

As you watch the video, you can see a guy who seems to have a knack for being in the right place at the right time. He makes an INT from an underneath zone, just by being where he is supposed to be. He also does a great job of helping to string out an outside run and making the tackle before the RB can reach the edge.

There’s a few shots of him as a pass rusher, but that doesn’t appear to be his role. Right now, he simply isn’t strong enough to be a regular pass rusher. This is why he’s probably slotted at WLB, where he’ll be used more for edge contain and pass coverage. He’s not the kind of LB who is going to stick with a slot WR downfield in man coverage, but he is very good at underneath zones and he can handle a RB or TE on most routes.

There’s also a number of special teams plays in the highlight video, which is rare. Gallon is a very good special teams player, due to his straight line speed and his vision. Even with the Hoos’ lack of depth at OLB, he’s not going to be starting this year. He is, of course, on the 2-deep, as the Hoos have only 4 scholarship OLBs (not including true freshmen). But he’ll continue to get reps on special teams, probably even if he does enter the starting lineup.