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Virginia’s defense is the key to the team’s fast start

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UVA’s defense is ranked high in many categories

Virginia v North Carolina
UVA’s stellar defense has led the way to the 5-1 record
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The Virginia Cavaliers are off to their best start in ten years in large part to a dominating defense. Led by senior stars Micah Kiser and Quin Blanding, the Hoos are 5-1 for the first time since 2007 and are one win away from a bowl berth.

UVA’s defense held North Carolina to only 257 total yards after limiting Duke to only 255 yards the week before. The last time the Cavaliers held consecutive opponents to that few of yards was back in September 2013, over 50 games ago. Through half the season, Virginia has only given up 1,887 total yards, which is their least through six games since 2011. The Hoos have also only given up 120 total points, which is the fewest at this point in a season since 2009.

UVA’s defense ranks high nationally in a lot of key categories as well. The Cavaliers are only allowing 20 points per game, which ranks 30th out of 129 FBS programs, and only 312.8 yards per game which is 18th best. Virginia’s pass defense has been particularly dominant by only allowing 169.8 passing yards per game and a passer rating of 99.1, which ranks #10 and #5 respectively.

When the pressure ratchets up on the Hoos, the defense steps up. UVA’s defense has allowed teams to convert only 26.8% of their third down conversions, which is the 7th best in the country. When Virginia’s opponents reach red zone, they have met even further resistance. The Cavaliers have only allowed 8 scores in their opponents’ 14 attempts in the red zone. That 57.1% percentage is the best mark in the entire country.

UVA will need this great defensive play to continue over the second half of the season in order to reach a bowl game for only the second time since 2007.