Optimism is a staple of the ACC Football kickoff, and UVa linebacker Steve Greer long has been one of the team’s more optimistic guys, even during the down times. But he says there’s more legitimacy for the feeling this year after the Cavaliers went 8-5 last season and broke their bowl drought.
“We really like the direction the program’s going in and we want to continue going in that direction,” Greer said. “Guys worked really hard to get in this position, and you’ve just got to keep passing on the baton.”
UVa must replace seven defensive starters from last season, and Greer understands why there’s some trepidation about his side of the ball.
“Naturally, that’s where people are going to put their eyes, losing so many upperclassmen and leaders from last year,” Greer said. “But it’s exciting, the young guys that are stepping up.”
Last year’s defensive emphasis was minimizing the amount of big plays, which had crushed the Cavs in 2010. This year’s focus is similar.
“We want to take away the deep ball and make sure that doesn’t beat us,” Greer said. “One thing we want to stay good at is third down conversions; we did pretty well last year. That’s something that we want to continue to get better on that we did well last year.”
Greer said it’s been the team’s most productive offseason since he’s been on the team.
“We might do a morning workout, and then guys are coming over and doing a little extra workout,” he said. “Guys are being selfless and doing the extra work on the field…We’re busy as it is and guys like to use their free time to do other stuff, but when you see guys come over and put in extra work it shows that guys are hungry and that they want it.”
Obviously we’ll talk with coach Mike London about this topic tomorrow more than a guy like Greer, but Greer said he doesn’t anticipate any fractures or cliques developing in the locker room with the addition of quarterback Phillip Sims, who will challenge incumbent Michael Rocco.
“I think it’s just the mentality of our team. We don’t really have animosity between guys,” he said. “You look at our running back position: We’ve got three very good running backs, and they’re all best friends…We look at it as competition’s healthy and makes everyone better.”