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Junior linebacker Jon Copper leads the Virginia football team with 92 tackles, including eight for loss. Saturday, the 16th-ranked Cavaliers take on their ACC rivals, eighth-ranked Virginia Tech in the home and regular-season finale.

What is this rivalry like for you back home?
I’m from Roanoke, which is more so a Tech place to live. I get a lot of stuff from my friends and family that are UVa fans people telling me that we have to beat Tech this year,’ so they can brag a little bit.

How does this rivalry stack up to others around the country?
I really don’t know overall compared to ones like Auburn-Alabama, but I know it is a big deal for the people here in Virginia.

You have not beaten Virginia Tech since you have been here. Does that add motivation for you?
It might add motivation to some guys, but we’re looking to win this game this year. We’re not thinking too much about what happened the previous few years. In general as a team, it’s good to narrow the focus to playing Virginia Tech this week, regardless of what happened in the past. We have to focus on getting better and competing with these guys. We have to execute on the field or none of the other stuff will matter.

Have you thought much about this being your last home game with this class of seniors?
I’ve thought about it a little bit. As someone who will be back next year, I want to be able to leave a good impression in the last home game, just like I hope the younger guys will want to for me and the rest of the seniors next year. It definitely plays a part.

This team has made a habit of late-game comebacks. How is the team able to repeatedly come back to win?
We’ve continually improved and overcome some adversity. The main thing is during the offseason, it was instilled that we were a tough team that could bounce back and handle things like being down in the fourth quarter. The group of guys we have this year really bought into what was instilled in us over the summer. Our strength coach, Matt Balis, has done some things to push us beyond what any of us thought we could do as a team.

After playing 11-consecutive weeks, the team finally had a bye last week. Has that helped everyone?
I think a bye week always helps. I felt a lot better yesterday than I do on a typical Monday. I think that was the case for most of the guys. You just get a chance to get a little more rest.

There is a lot of hype surrounding this game. What do you expect when you step onto the field Saturday?
We know Virginia Tech is playing their best football of the season. I feel like we’re on par with the best that we have been playing. I think it will be a good, competitive game. We know they will play their best and we want to do the same.

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