Clemson OC Tony Elliott Expecting Aggressive Virginia Defense on Saturday

JP-Priester

When Virginia visits No. 1 Clemson this weekend, offensive coordinator Tony Elliott isn't expecting to see wholesale changes on the defensive side of the ball compared to what the Tigers saw in last seasons ACC Championship Game. 

The Cavaliers still play that same aggressive 3-4 style defense and this years' version is full of returning starters, particularly on the back end.

"Very similar from an aggressive standpoint," Elliott said on Monday. "They like to blitz you a lot. A lot of senior veterans on the back end, a lot of chemistry. You see a lot of communication between the safeties and the corners."

While they may still play the same style of defense, one thing Elliott has noticed is the fact that they are moving some guys around more. Linebacker Noah Taylor specifically is a guy that the Cavaliers are lining up in different places to try and take advantage of his versatility, a move that paid off in the team's season-opening 38-20 win over Duke. 

Taylor made plays all over the field against the Blue Devils, registering seven total tackles, 1.5 sacks and two tackles for loss.

"I think they got some guys in different spots, I'd say Noah Taylor looks like he's really taken advantage of his offseason," Elliott said. "He was a versatile guy last year but you know, just this past game you saw him all over the field. I saw him on the field playing safety, dropping down in the box playing linebacker, playing defensive end. So it looks like they've used the offseason to see how they can best utilize his skill set." 

Taylor wasn't the only linebacker making plays for Virginia in the win over Duke. Charles Snowden is another player the Cavaliers are lining up in different spots in an effort to take advantage of a unique skill-set and Elliott knows his offense will be challenged by the Cavaliers defense, led by those veteran linebackers.

"Got a lot of length, very versatile, multiple," Elliott said. "They do a lot of things that can really challenge you by their ability to change structure with their flexibility with Snowden and Taylor on the outside, and those guys being linebackers/DB's at times, or they can go down and play defensive end. They play hard."

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