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Sept. 6, 2014

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Virginia vs. Richmond

September 6th, 2014

Virginia Head Coach Mike London

Opening remarks:
“First of all, I am very pleased with the way the team played. I want to commend Richmond, they played really hard, particularly in the first couple of quarters. My hat goes off to Coach Rocco and his work getting his team prepared. I am very happy with our effort, especially in the second half. We caused a lot of turnovers today and had production from a lot of people. We had a chance to play a lot of players. It has been a long time since we won a football game, and my hat goes off to all the coaches and players who got ready for this. It’s short-lived because we have Louisville coming in next Saturday, but it’s a good feeling to have, that we haven’t had in a long time. We will learn from some of the mistakes we made and get better as a football team. I am very pleased with the effort and I look forward to competing and moving on.”

On the first win since last season:
“I am in it for the development of the players, on the field, in the classroom and in the community. When you see success on the field because of individual and collective efforts, you are very proud. I am very proud of the team and the effort. And now we’re ready to continue to get better and take another step forward. When it all comes together, it is gratifying to see that the effort by the players and coaches ends up with a victory. It feels good to win. Obviously we want to get used to this feeling and we want to have this feeling a lot. Winning is contagious and that is a happy locker room today. But we know that there is a challenge on the horizon for us, and we need to play better and do better coming up next week.”

On the quarterback situation:
“The quarterback situation worked out as planned. Grayson Lambert started. He has been the starter during the spring, summer and then August camp. It was good and he was productive. Matt Johns came in and he was productive. I was also happy to see David Watford come in towards the end of the game. We will look at the film. Moving forward, our situation is that the guys that are playing are the guys that are executing and performing, not just at quarterback, but at a lot of positions.”

On Henry Coley’s caused turnover:

“It was a big play. It is a turnover that sparks a change in momentum. Henry did it last game with a couple plays that changed the outlook as well. There were a lot of big plays on defense today. Quin Blanding recorded his first turnover. The scoop-and-score that happened against us last week occurred for us this week. We were in position with the fumbles. It was very productive and I like the effort. Richmond played well. They were flying around in the first half, but our guys hung in there. I wanted to run the ball, control the line of scrimmage, utilize a short passing game and take our shots when we had the chance. I was pleased with it today.”

On Darius Jennings’ success:
“Darius is a selfless person, in that he wants the team to succeed. It is easy for a guy after getting replaced to sulk or pout. But Darius realized that decision was in the best interest of the team. He worked with other guys and coached them. He never had an attitude or issue. It was great to see him with the touchdown catch last week and the success with his runback today. When you have a bunch of guys like Darius, who are leaders and great teammates who are worried about unity, then that is all that matters. It is contagious. It is great to see a young man like Darius have some success in these first two games.”

On the special team’s effort:
“First, our returners are guys that can make plays. Also, there was the opportunity to make blocks today. Kickoff blocks are some of the longest blocks in football. We executed well. Smoke and Darius were able to get us some plus field position, and that is critical. We have to play well on special teams and field position is always important. The caused turnovers today were critical as well. But, we had a couple of penalties on special teams that cost us. The first kickoff went out of bounds and that put the ball on the minus-35 for them. We are a work in progress, but it’s good to see these guys have success. They know that if they make their blocks, do their assignments and execute, then they will have a chance to be successful.”

On Richmond’s offensive game plan:

“They did not want their quarterback to hold the ball, so they got the ball out quickly and chopped our linemen to get our hands down at the line of scrimmage, it was working. But we mixed up coverages so we would have defenders in the flats. We did a couple things that put us in position to cause the quarterback to hold the ball longer. It was a good defensive adjustment. And when you cause turnovers like two we did, it changes the whole face of the game.”

On Canaan Severin:

“Canaan is a dedicated player. He has lost a lot of weight and is in great shape. He has made some terrific catches in practice. He is a guy that can go up and get the ball. He has been a very productive player for us throughout camp and in the first couple of games. It is good to see him have success. We are going to need him. We need those size receivers to go up and make things happen. I am very pleased with Canaan right now and the opportunities that he has had. He has benefited from all the hard work during the spring and summer. I am happy for him.”

On playing against former UVA players Michael Strauss and Michael Rocco:

“I know those two young men. After the game I hugged both of them and told them that I love them and wished them luck, along with Coach Rocco – as I’ve said we are very good friends. It has been a while since I’ve seen Strauss and Rocco. They have gotten acclimated to their team and their teammates. We have moved on and are doing what we need to do with our team. Both of them are good players and good people. They have good families and I wish them nothing but success.”

On the run game:

“The running game opens up the passing game and the passing game opens up the running game. We wanted to make sure that we averaged more than three yards per carry. When you can run the ball, throw short passes and then take vertical shots, it opens up a lot of things. That is one of the things that we tried to do today.”

On the defensive effort:

“You have to give Richmond credit. There were a couple balls that were thrown up in the air that we need to be more aggressive with. Both Richmond quarterbacks did a good job finding their open receivers and they performed well. We have room for improvement, but overall we had seven turnovers and a lot of aggressive plays. It was a positive part of the game. But we will go back and look over the negatives. Louisville is a team with a lot of great skilled players and we will need to sure up what we are doing for next week.”

On Daquan Romero and Max Valles:

“I believe Romero had an interception and a couple of big stops. Max did a great job with his pass rush moves. He was frustrated early because they were cutting his legs at the beginning of the game, but he overcame it and adapted to it, and was able to make some plays. Romero is a guy that has been around our program for a while and is a senior that is looking to go out strong and make a Virginia football legacy. With Max, the sky is the limit. He is a very good football player. If he is productive, then overall our defense will be productive.”

Sophomore Quarterback Matt Johns

On the quarterback rotation during the game:

“We let the coaches handle that. When they called on us both, we were both ready, and we’ll take it from there. It wasn’t based off of what quarter it was. It was when the coaches were ready to put us in, then they would put us in.”

On the first win of the season:

“It’s awesome. Eli Harold said it best when he said `It’s been 350 days since our last win.’ We wanted it really bad today and I’m proud of our entire team effort.”

On getting a win against familiar players:

“There are two good guys on the other side of the ball, Michael Strauss and Michael Rocco. I saw Michael Rocco before the game. He was a good friend of mine when he was here and it’s always good beating up on people you know. That’s football and I’m just happy we got the win. We’re not really worried about who’s on the other side.”

On being happy about the quarterback rotation:

“Absolutely. I think the coaches did a good job of putting us in when they felt it was a good time. We both got touchdown passes and at the end of the day we won. That’s what really matters.”

On getting seven turnovers from the defense:

“It turned the table a lot today. We had good field position and were able to put the ball in the end zone. Our kicker [Dylan Sims] did a good job today. It helps the offense put points on the board and I think we converted pretty well today.”

On the emergence of wide receiver Canaan Severin:

Canaan Severin is one of my best friends on the team and he is one of the hardest workers on this entire team. The work that he’s put in during the spring, the summer, and in camp has paid off. He had two touchdowns today and his hard work really did pay off. I’m really happy for him. This spring and summer we came back and said `We’re here for the long haul, let’s start working.’ The next day we were out on the field working together and whenever we have free time in the summer, we were out there working.”

On the touchdown pass to Canaan Severin:

“I rolled out and I was looking to run at first. But, then I backed off when I saw the defense back off as well. They dropped everyone into the end zone and Canaan Severin snuck behind them. It was exciting.”

Sophomore Quarterback Greyson Lambert

On the first win of the season:

“It was a great team effort. Special teams, offense and defense all did a great job today. Winning is always fun.”

On needing to get a win today:

“I think Eli [Harold] said after the game, `350 days.’ It’s been awhile and it always feels good. Hopefully, we can carry that momentum forward.”

On the quarterback rotation:

“It was good. It was just like during practice. We’ve been rotating in practice. Whenever coach calls our number, we’ll go in and try to execute to the best of our ability.”

On the touchdown pass to Canaan Severin:

“We’ve been practicing it all this week. It was just how we drew it up. If we can get the other out to bait the corner down, then we should have the deep route behind him. It worked well and was a good play call.”

On putting last week behind him:

“It felt good. I’ve been talking to my family a lot about it and just getting back to me, getting back to putting God first and doing what I can to help the team in any way. It wasn’t really about putting last week behind us. It was about getting a win this week. It was good.”

On being Matt Johns’ biggest cheerleader:

“We’ve roomed together all of camp and we’re great friends. The whole quarterback group is each other’s biggest fans. We’re just trying to help the team win.”

On converting off of the defense’s seven turnovers:

“It’s a big deal. Whenever your defense can get you the ball back, especially in that fashion, with good field position, we need to get the ball into the end zone.”

On ending the losing streak:

“To finally get that `W’ is something that this team has been working for. Hopefully, we can carry that momentum into next week.”

On the game plan for today’s game:

“The game plan is different every week according to the opponent. So, we put in some new stuff and we’ll put in some new stuff the following week as well. It just depends on who we’re playing.”

Junior Wide Receiver Canaan Severin

On chemistry with Matt Johns:

“Me and Matt came here in the same class and he was actually one of the first people I met here at Virginia. So, we’ve had a great connection ever since we stepped on Grounds. Every summer we work out together. We’ve been doing extra [work] on the weekends for the past two summers. I’m proud of him and happy that it’s working out for him. When you do something so much with one person and you build that connection, you build confidence that it can be done through our hard work. We just have to keep working hard and we’ll continue to see success. We just want to keep on getting better and that’s all we can really control. I’ve always had confidence in Matt Johns, Greyson [Lambert] and Dave [Watford].

On getting a win today:

“Every game we prepare to win. My coach always used to say `It takes too long to put on all the stuff to go out there and lose.’ We’ve definitely been waiting for this for a long time and now we just want to keep it going. The hardest thing to do is win a football game. When you get that momentum and start putting weeks together of winning games, it starts rolling. We’ve just got to keep on doing that and keep on working hard.”

Senior Wide Receiver Darius Jennings

On being consistent so far this season:

“I don’t think its just myself, it’s been our receiving corps in general. That’s something that Coach [Marques] Hagans preaches to us everyday. I think that we all have heart and you can see it in our performance and production on the field.”

On the kickoff return:

“Probably should’ve gone outside. I can’t really tell you what I saw during the play. I really don’t remember. But, I think I made one too many cuts. I was trying to let my blocking set itself up for me, but sometimes I need to just trust my speed and go take it to the house. We’ll correct it and hopefully I can get another one next week.”

On being a veteran leader to the younger wide receivers:

I wouldn’t say it’s a good deed. I feel as though that as a team we all do that. It doesn’t matter who’s on the field as long as we’re being consistent. As long as we’re being productive and as long as we’re doing our job, we have faith in whoever’s on the field. Whether it’s me, whether it’s [Miles] Gooch, whether it’s Ian Frye, whether it’s Eli Harold, we have faith that they’re going to make the play.”

On being comfortable with both quarterbacks:

“In my career here, I’ve played with a lot of quarterbacks. We have faith in whoever’s in the huddle. So, whether its Greyson [Lambert], Dave [Watford] or Matt [Johns], we have faith in that person. We just have to go out there and do our job.”

Sophomore Linebacker Max Valles

On making adjustments to Richmond defense:

“The biggest adjustment was being ready for the cut blocks. They would take a three-step drop, cut, and then throw a quick little screen or a little swing pass. The biggest thing was to get your hands ready for the chop or jump over them and just keep going.”

On Richmond not being able to find ways to get by the Virginia defense:

“I feel like we just didn’t give up. The biggest thing was to try to make them give up after that first series and I feel like we did a good job doing that.”

On scoring a defensive touchdown:

“I didn’t even know Eli [Harold] picked it [the ball] up. I honestly thought the quarterback threw the ball and I was just trying to get a good hit on him, but then Eli scored.”

On recovering the ball after Eli Harold forced a fumble:

“On his [Eli Harold’s] play, I was more excited. I didn’t really see the ball, then I looked down at my feet and there was the ball. So, I jumped on it.”

On how important it was to back up last week’s defensive performance vs. UCLA

“It was important to prove that last week wasn’t just a fluke. We have to come out every week. Next week is Louisville and I know a couple guys on that team. So, I know they’re going to come out and bring it.”

On Quin Blanding:

“Quin did great today. First career pick, so I’m very proud of him. He’s a young guy, so it’s good to see him getting comfortable out there.”

On the defense’s attitude in the first two games:

“It’s not just the defense, but the whole team is staying together. Great team unity. Unity is the word of the season for us, so the biggest thing is just to stay together and keep fighting.”

On winning for the first time in a while:

“It feels great, you know? It feels great to walk out of the locker room with a smile on our faces.”

Freshman Safety Quin Blanding:

On his interception:

“I had seen them run it in film, and I thought, `Okay, they might have a chance to run this play.’ So, I just sat in my zone and we just played it hard defensively, and went after the ball.”

On being more comfortable:

“I was still nervous. Everybody is always nervous, but it felt good to be with the team and just play physical and play fast as a unit.”

On if getting his first milestones make him relax:

“I don’t know. I just feel comfortable with all the hard work we put in throughout the week. It just feels good to be back there with everybody.”

On playing with veteran defensive teammates:

“It feels good. They help me out tremendously, both in practice and in the film room. They sit down with me and tell me if I made a mistake or what I could do to fix it. I thank them for that. It just feels good to be out there with them.”

Biggest difference between this week and last week:

“I still feels like it’s the same. We’re just out there playing hard, playing fast and attacking on defense.”

On Virginia’s first win in a while:

“Yeah, it’s a good feeling. The hard work we put in throughout camp, for the whole team in general, just feels good to be on top and get a victory.”

Junior Defensive End Eli Harold:

On his fumble recovery:

Max Valles, they turned him loose like they did me. When you have a clear shot, you’re going to try and break that guy’s back. Max had a great hit and it was crazy how that ball bounced. I thought it was going to take that third bounce, and you know in football, the trajectories are crazy. It took that second bounce and I said `Please don’t bounce again.’ It just popped right into my hands. It was amazing, man. I credit Max Valles. He’s had two superb games. He had a big game last week. Hopefully, we can just keep this ball rolling and keep putting pressure on guys.”

On whether or not it was his first recovered turnover:

“No, I caught an interception my freshman year. As soon as I caught it, the lineman tackled me. I get teased about it every single day. They say, `How do you let a lineman catch you?’ I say `He was just right there when I caught it.’ But, it’s crazy because the other night, I told my roommate [Wilfred Wahee] that I was going to get my first career touchdown on Saturday. Then [after the touchdown] I thanked God, and Wil came up to me and said, `You’ve never lied to me.'”

On Virginia’s win:

“Every guy wants to know what to do better in order to help us win. It was good to get that taste out of our mouths. In my first year we won four. Then last year we won two. I won’t say I got used to losing, but as it went on I would say, `Well, we lost again.’ Now I feel rejuvenated, like I got that jug of water I needed to get hydrated again. We’re going to get the ball rolling from here. We have our first ACC competition next week.”

On locker room atmosphere after the game:

“You could see the look on Coach [Mike] London’s face. I was so proud of him. He deserves this win. Coach London deserved that. Our team, we worked hard to deserve this as well.”

On Quin Blanding:

“Oh man, that guy’s amazing.”

Senior Linebacker Henry Coley

On being projected to give up 10 points defensively:

“Ten is still too much. Our back was against the wall for a few possessions, especially when we were going into the half. They were picking us apart and it seemed like it was surgical at some points.”

On stripping the ball near the end of the half:

“It was a called blitz. I saw a guy pull and I just replace wherever he pulls from. I was able to make the tackle. I didn’t even realize the ball came out. I knew by the way that I tackled him that he was going to score. When I saw the ball down, I hoped for a scoop and score but we got a fumble.”

On whether or not stripping the ball was a momentum shift:

“It was a very big momentum shift because that would have lifted them up a lot more. Even going into halftime 14-3 still wasn’t good in my mind. I thought it was going to be at least 28-3 going into halftime. But, due to turnovers on our part, they were set up and they were about to capitalize on it. I was just happy I was able to be in the right position and have the right defensive call to make a play.”

On scoring on defense:

“That was very big. Eli [Harold] was just glad that he didn’t have to bend down to get it. It came right into his arms. But, you get those lucky bounces sometimes. Hopefully, we’ll continue to get those bounces over the course of the year.”

On how nice it is to be talking about a win:

“It’s very nice. It’s bittersweet though, because we’re still not where we need to be. Especially, with the competition we have coming in next week. So, we just have to get in the film room and correct mistakes. Then we just take it one game at a time. It’s going to be our first game in the ACC of this year, so we want to get a win.”

On what he said to Michael Rocco and Michael Strauss after the game:

“At the beginning of the game, I showed them love. I know that they’re happy with the decision that they made with transferring.”

Richmond Head Coach Danny Rocco Quotes

Opening statement:

“Seven turnovers. I don’t even know where to begin with that. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to answer any questions about that very clearly, because I just don’t know enough about where to go from here. That’s two weeks in a row we turn the ball over. I really thought our defense was hanging in there and statistically it probably bodes out that way. We were pretty stiff against the run and weren’t giving up any really huge creases. There were too many short fields, too many repetitive series’, and offensively we kind of sputtered and turned the ball over. We couldn’t protect our quarterback. I was scared going in, but I thought that we would have performed a little better.”

On Virginia’s defense:

“I think they’ve got some real confidence and swagger there on defense. We can catch and throw the ball when we are in rhythm, and we had some passing yards. I don’t think anyone is going to dispute that. But with those two edge guys they are a constant presence and a force, putting a lot stress on you. And I haven’t even talked about our inability to run the football. I think we were at zero yards going into that last drive. Their defense dominated the tempo of the day even though we had statistics offensively. That’s a pretty impressive front they’ve got there. I would think they’ll have a real strong year with those guys rushing the passer.”

On his plan with the two quarterbacks:

“When I put Michael Rocco back in later in the game, I did not want to see Strauss in the pocket anymore. He had taken a couple hits and the ball came out a couple times. So from that point forward it wasn’t even a decision as to how we’re going to go. It was more of a `Strauss you’re done for the day, Rocco you’re in the game’. Early on I think you saw a little bit more of what we were intending to do.”

On TJ. Moon’s fumble at the end of the first half:

“I really thought that we had what it took to overcome that, and we didn’t have it today. I don’t really know why. I told my guys here at the end that they have a big decision to make. We have to decide what kind of season we want to have. We have a big game next week at Hampton. But I think that was probably as deflating of a moment that there was out there today. We had some bad moments, but that was the most deflating as we had the ball down there on the one yard line.”

Takeaways from the game:

“When you get whipped like we got whipped today it is hard to enjoy the experience. We will find out our true character this week as we work to bounce back.”

Richmond Player Quotes

Redshirt Senior Wide Receiver Stephen Barnette

On Richmond’s mindset going into halftime:

“Halftime kind of gave us an opportunity to regroup, and we were only down 11 points. With the offense we have, we don’t really think that’s an impossible task. We didn’t come out with the right mindset in the second half and we let it get to us. It was very unfortunate.”

On positives to take away in his statistics:

“I guess, but for me it’s about the team and whether we won the game or not. We didn’t. This receiving corps feels like we can play against anybody in the nation at any level, and I guess we showed that today. Stats are nice, but a win is better.”

Redshirt Senior Quarterback Michael Rocco

On the media attention for this game:

“As much as the media thinks we watch every word that is said and that we focus on what is said in the media, both [Michael] Strauss and I, people who have relationships with UVa, we are looking at this as just an FBS opponent. It’s a great opportunity to play them. Like I said before, it didn’t go our way today. I give all the credit to UVa, but we are going to move on from it. We have Hampton next week so we are excited.”

On exchanges with former teammates:

“All four of those captains on the field are great friends of mine, but we really talked before the game and got that out of the way. We just said good luck and kind of joked around with each other a little. It was kind of all business and we were ready to go at the end of the coin toss.”

Takeaways from the game:

“You can always take something away from a game, whether it’s bad or good. You never play as bad as you think and you never play as good as you think when you watch the film. So, we will definitely take stuff away from this game. If nothing else we will be able to correct turnovers and just see what happened out there from a birds-eye view.”

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