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Aug. 30, 2014

Virginia vs. UCLA

August 30, 2014

Virginia Head Coach Mike London Quotes

Opening statement:

“First of all, I’d like to say how extremely proud I am of this team. UCLA is a team that’s picked to win the Pac-12, be in the four-team playoff, and some have picked them to win it all. As I said in the locker room, when you can go toe-to-toe and play a good football team like that, there’s nothing to hold your head down about.”

On moving forward with the quarterback situation:

“We talked at the very beginning about execution, production and performance. We made the switch and obviously Matt [Johns] did a very good job in the time he got in there. He can get better as well. Most of all, it’s about players that can perform, and he rose to the occasion given his opportunity. Like any other position, you have to perform. We’ll continue to evaluate players and look at the tape, and the players that can help us will play. Greyson [Lambert] is a young man who understands that as the game is going, there are decisions made that are in the best interest of the team.”

On if he considered a kicking a field goal late in the game down eight points:

“We were in a four-down position there. We didn’t execute there. Unfortunately, the play that was called [on third down] was not executed. It wasn’t a run play. It was a pass play. Matt [Johns] misread the signals as they came in. As I said, you have a guy who had been playing a good game, and then the signal comes in and he makes an error. But, that game wasn’t won or lost in that situation. There were so many opportunities during the game.”

On Matt Johns:

“He’s done a great job running the offense. He studies the game and he earned playing time today. What you saw was a young man who showed some confidence and is willing to throw the ball. He also showed that he has some things to learn. I’m proud of him and all the other guys for their effort.”

On UCLA’s three defensive touchdowns: “Defensively, they were where they needed to be. They capitalized on our errors. You take away those errors and you have a very competitive game.”

On how the team responds after a difficult loss:

“This season is a long journey. There are a lot of people that picked the team we just played to win it all. No one is hanging their head in that locker room because they know we can play better and we can do better. The next step is the next opponent, and that’s next Saturday.”

On Virginia’s defensive performance:

“Knowing that we had eight starters back in the same system, I knew we could play better defensively. That quarterback [Brett] Hundley is as good as anyone out there. That’s why he’s a Heisman Trophy candidate. He can run, he can pass, and he did some things that show why he’s a special player.”

On conservative offensive play calling:

“We wanted to run the ball and control the tempo a bit. One of the things you can do is keep the clock running with some short passes. The game plan was put in place to keep us in the game. We felt pretty good about where we were at the end of the game. When you play a team like that, you want to construct a game plan to be productive in all facets. Obviously, we want to make those throws down the field. We’ll make sure that gets incorporated more and we have the opportunities to throw the ball down there, and create mismatches and advantages for us.”

On performance of the offensive line:

“I thought the offensive line did a great job. This team allowed no sacks to a team that has a prolific pass rush. We were able to protect the quarterback and get the ball out. I was particularly pleased with Michael Mooney in his first start and Ryan Doull on the inside.”

Virginia Player Quotes

Sophomore Defensive End Max Valles

On the game:

“We learned to keep fighting as a family and to have great team unity, whether it is a good or bad situation. We have to keep going out there and fight no matter what happens.”

On pressuring the UCLA offense:

“The key throughout the spring and training camp was to pressure everybody we play against, whether we bring four, five or six guys. Get after them and don’t give up no matter what.”

On playing from behind:

“The biggest thing is that we are all a family, we cannot get down on our offense if they give up points. We have to just go out and play for them, and make plays. We could have easily blocked the kicks and not given up the touchdown, and then we would have won the game.”

On preparing fro UCLA QB Brett Hundley:

“He’s a college football player like all of us. We all have the talent to be here or else we wouldn’t be playing. So we have to treat him like he’s a regular player, like anyone else.”

On the defensive goals:

“We want to make a statement every game. We do not give up no matter the circumstance and we keep fighting out there on the field. It’s a step forward today from last season. Last season we would have given up early in the second quarter, so that’s a big step up in how we stayed together as a team.”

Freshman Safety Quin Blanding

On the defensive goals:

“We practiced hard, watched film and all came together as one. We played as a unit, kept going and kept fighting. That was our goal.”

On making his collegiate debut:

“I felt really good. My teammates kept me going. This is what we train for. Throughout training camp, this is what our coaches trained me for, and I commend them. We all went out there and played as a team.”

On almost tackling UCLA QB Brett Hundley on game winning touchdown:

“I was really close; sometimes things happen. I just need to keep making plays and we need to make plays on defense and offense.”

On what they learned from the game:

“We just played together. From the start of training camp our focus was tempo, when big plays happen we all have to come together and fight together.”

Senior Linebacker Henry Coley

On UCLA QB Brett Hundley:

“He had to put the team on his back and try to beat us with his arm and legs. He is a dual threat quarterback that you always have to keep eyes on.”

On Hundley being uncomfortable on the field:

“We were toying with each other and the offensive linemen. They made calls and we would echo them. I walked up and looked at his eyes, we made eye contact a lot, and I could tell he was getting flustered because he never knew where the pressure was coming from. But he stepped up in the pocket and made the passes his team needed to win.”

On the defensive mentality:

“The mentality was that if you don’t score, you don’t win. Of course you want to force turnovers, but we can only control what we do on our side of the ball. We wanted to step up and help our offense with good field position and get turnovers. If we needed to, we wanted to score on our end. If you think about the last play you will mess up the future, especially in one of these games.”

Junior Center Ross Burbank

On game:

“You definitely gain confidence. We did not let up any sacks today and we played well as a unit. We get great looks in practice from our defense, which is tremendous. So we gained confidence, but there is no moral victories for playing well and not winning.”

On making mistakes and rotating personnel:

“If a guy cannot focus or if someone else can get the job done – we are all about winning. It is not about who is doing what and who is taking credit. From the offensive standpoint, the line is rotating, the quarterback rotated today, and the receivers had a ton of guys playing. If someone makes a mistake, the coaches get him to the sideline, correct it and go from there.”

Redshirt Freshman Wide Receiver Andre Levrone

On playing from behind:

“A lot of the time we came back to the sideline and told each other to not worry about the score. We needed to make plays, just like we practiced. We were playing for our brothers and tried to keep our eyes off the scoreboard and chip away at the lead one play at a time.”

On QB Matt Johns:

“He did a great job. I told him that I commend him on his performance. He made plays and played smart football. I was proud of him for his performance today. It was the right time. I feel confident whether it is Matt or Grayson [Lambert] in the huddle. Matt as ready, he has been working hard like everybody else and was up to the task today.”

Senior Safety Anthony Harris

On game:

“At no point do we think that it is encouraging just to stick around in the game. We came into the game with the expectation of winning. We battled hard and it came down to the end, that’s a good team and give them credit. At the end of the day we want to go out there and win, and we expect to win”

On UCLA QB Brett Hundley:

“He’s a great guy and great leader. We sacked him a few times and were able to get him in the pocket. He was able to stay calm and corral his team. He did a good job on the field making plays.”

On playing UCLA’s highly-ranked offense:

“It motivates us a lot, because as a defensive unit we have huge expectations. As a unit, we have a lot of talent. We go into the game with a chip on our shoulder became we believe we are some of the best players in the conference.”

On playing from behind:

“We have been there before and we learned from last year that we have to just go out there and play and try to get the ball to the offense as much as we can. We know to stay positive and we have grown as a team and as a unit. We stay positive, we talk to guys on offense and talk to each other. We did not leave our assignments to make a play. Last year that hurt us. If guys got down they tried to pick up the slack and guys would leave their assignments. Today we stayed disciplined and played within the system, and it showed. The offense got going and we had an opportunity to win it in the end.”

Senior Linebacker Daquan Romero

On what the team takes from the loss:

“We played a hell of a game. You know, sometimes it doesn’t go how we want it to go. We just have to go into film and get better. Like I said, we played a real good game offensively and defensively. We just have to keep each other up and make sure nobody gets down or, you know, dwell on this moment too much because there were a few mistakes. We all make mistakes. We all mess up.”

On the Virginia defense looking forward to the matchup with UCLA:

“We’ve been looking forward to it since the summer time. People underestimating us and doubting us that we weren’t going to do anything because they’re a high powered offense. We took that personally, very personally. Someone said the score was going to be 43-17. ESPN this morning said they were going to win by 21. Guys took it personally.”

Sophomore Quarterback Matt Johns

On the fourth quarter, third down play miscommunication:

“They signaled in the play, I read the wrong line on my wristband. That was completely my fault. Bottom line, I called the wrong play. That’s it. It was a pass play and that’s all I’m going to say about it.”

On whether or not he was surprised when Coach London called his name to play:

“Absolutely. I was excited for Greyson. It was his first college start. It’s what we all dream about. I was a little surprised, but I couldn’t let my teammates see that and I wasn’t going to let them see that. So when I was put in the game, I said `Guys we’re going to score this series and we’re going to win.’ I felt like that gave us a good opportunity, but it wasn’t good enough. We’re going to bounce back.”

On his teammates’ play:

“My offensive line played great and my wide receivers played great.”

On whether or not he had taken snaps with the first team:

“Grayson got 90 percent of the reps, but Coach [Steve] Fairchild mixed us in there a little bit.”

On how the experience of the game was going to help the team moving forward:

“The energy and passion that our team brought was just unbelievable. I’m so proud of our guys on the offensive line and every time I looked up at their eyes in the huddle there was never a blank stare. They were like `Lets go.’ I was really proud of all my teammates on all the energy and passion that we can build off of for the rest of the season.”

On what it was like to play in such a high-caliber game against such a good team:

“They’re seventh in the country, they moved the ball at the end, and the proved why they are seventh in the country. I think that was a great testament to us, to show that we can play with these guys and that we can play with anyone. I think our team is really going to build off that the rest of the season.”

On looking comfortable:

“Absolutely. We needed a spark and we needed a big play. When the play was called I knew I was going to Andrew Levrone and he went up and got me one. The play that started our comeback was from Canaan Severin. We got the look we wanted, and he went up and made a great catch, and that sparked the drive.”

On potentially getting his first college start:

“I don’t know, that’s the coaches’ decision, not mine.”

On what he said when he first got in the huddle:

“I said, `Guys, we’re going to score here and we’re going to win this game.’ Unfortunately it didn’t turn out the way we wanted, but I liked that when I said it and they believed me. There was trust, and I trusted them, all other 10 guys in the huddle. I think that was really important. Kevin Parks grabbed me and said `You got this. Let’s do this.’ And I really appreciated that from KP.”

On whether Virginia has a quarterback controversy:

“No, that’s up to the coaches. They’ll decide that and we’ll leave it to them.”

On the game plan:

“When you look at it, we lost by eight, right? But, we were in that game because of our game plan. Coach [Steve] Fairchild called a great game all four quarters. We had some turnovers, but that was beating ourselves up. That wasn’t the game plan. You can’t control turnovers, but we need to limit those. We handed them 21 points and that’s rough. As a quarterback, I was really happy with everything that was called. There were no surprises. I was ready for everything.”

On how Grayson took the quarterback change:

“[Greyson] was awesome. When I came off the sideline, he was the first one to support me. He’s one of my best friends on this team. We were roommates all camp. He’s one of the reasons I had so much confidence going in. It’s unfortunate that it happened the way it happened, but he’s one of my best friends and I couldn’t ask for any support than he gave me.”

On his own mobility as a quarterback:

“A couple times when the play broke down, KP [Kevin Parks] was like `Don’t be afraid to run it.’ Before our first touchdown, my second college play ever, I looked back and I saw Myles Jack, and I said `Wow, I need to get away from that! I need to get away from him.’ So luckily, I got the first down and gave us a shot to score. But I mean, Greyson is the most athletic kid on this team.”

On whether or not he could have envisioned sitting in front of reporters after the game:

“I don’t know. Last night in our pre-game talk, Coach London said `Some of you guys are going to need to step up.’ He was right. A lot of guys did step up today. Darius Jennings had two big catches. That fourth down conversion and that touchdown in the corner of the end zone. Our offensive line, the question that you guys have been asking for six months now is what is the offensive line going to be? And guess what? They played a heck of a game and I’m proud of all of those guys. A lot guys stepped up today and I was happy with our effort and passion.”

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