Cavaliers adjust following loss of Hall on defense

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Don't expect to see wide-ranging changes to the Virginia football team's scheme on defense without All-American cornerback Bryce Hall.

"We will not change a thing," UVA co-defensive coordinator Kelly Poppinga said after practice Wednesday morning. "I'll leave it at that."

"Bryce is a great player, but it's a group thing," said UVA redshirt junior defensive back De'Vante Cross. "Together we're still strong as a group, so nothing will change."

Hall was named a midseason second-team All-American at cornerback this week by the Associated Press -- just days after the senior was lost for the rest of the season in last Friday's loss at Miami with an ankle injury.

Cross will shift from free safety, where he started the Wahoos' first six games, to Hall's vacant cornerback spot. Chris Moore will move into the free safety spot vacated by Cross. Moore missed all of last season, but has six career starts on his UVA resume, including five during the 2017 season.

Poppinga was asked Wednesday about the value of having veteran players like Cross and Moore available to plug into the different spots in UVA's defensive backfield.

"It just goes back to, when we played our young guys early, everything is paying off for us," he said. "The great thing is, we get basically everybody back in 2020. If you can play young guys early, then it's obviously going to prepare you for the future. And I think that's what's happening right now."

The move back to cornerback is the latest position change for Cross in his four UVA seasons. Originally recruited as a dual-threat quarterback, Cross saw time at that position and at wide receiver early in his redshirt freshman season in 2017 before getting shifted to corner. He began last season as a receiver before again moving back to defense -- this time at safety.

On Wednesday, Cross said all of those have taught him how to sudden position changes.

"One thing I learned is just go and compete, and be confident. And with those two, nothing can go wrong," he said. "You're going to make mistakes, but at the same time be confident enough to go to the next play."

"I've played it before. My coach is preparing me. My team's got confidence in me," Cross added. "So there's nothing to be scared of."

"De'Vante puts in the time. So when you're prepared, he's going to be confident," said Poppinga. "The expectation is obviously to make as many plays as he can, but he's going to be well prepared -- he prepares at a high level, probably just as good as anybody on our team. So I know he's going to go in confident, because he's going to be prepared."



 
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