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Sept. 27, 2014

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Virginia vs. Kent State

Sept. 27, 2014

Coach Mike London Quotes

Opening statement:

“First of all, I’m very happy and proud of particularly the second half effort the guys displayed. Kent State played hard and those kids fought the whole way. I was proud to see a number of guys have a chance to play. We need that going into the stretch here of conference games. We’re excited about next Saturday’s game at 7:30 versus Pittsburgh, another conference game.”

On his halftime remarks inspiring the second-half performance:

“It wasn’t so much about what I said, it was about what the senior leadership said. We talk about this all year, about expecting and demanding more from each other, and the first half wasn’t indicative of the way we have been playing. They went out in the second half and all phases, offense, defense, special teams, they all went out and performed to the standard that we should expect. Again, my hat goes off to the leadership.”

On having two straight weeks with 500 yards of offense:

“The production is important. Executing is always critical. When you execute and you can perform, it leads to production and that’s what we saw in various aspects so we have to keep doing that and keep improving. I believe we had nine penalties today, which is way too many. But at the same time guys found a way to make plays and that’s what is important and ultimately the win today was important for us, particularly here at home. As we get ready to go into league play, we have to be at a level where we can win football games.”

On Demetrious Nicholson’s interception:

“I thought it was an interception. No ifs ands or buts about it. It was good to have Tre back. I believe they tried to pick on him a little bit early with a couple of those throws, but he did his share of break ups and that interception down there in the red zone was huge for us. He came up with the ball.”

On Matt Johns:

“Matt did a pretty good job managing the team. There are a couple of throws he probably wished he had back, but particularly he played well in the second half and proved he could make some of those same throws. He’s a guy who has played a lot for us, and obviously this was a good test for him, being a starter.”

On the six forced turnovers defensively:

“It’s big. It’s huge. It’s part of a defense that is a pressure defense which means getting your hands on the ball, as Maurice did when he returned it for a touchdown, causing sack fumbles, and interceptions by being in the passing lanes. So it’s important for us to create turnovers for our offense. I believe there are maybe 16 possessions in a game, and if you can force that many turnovers, then you’re taking the ball away from them and giving it back to our offense. It’s important for us defensively. That’s who we have to be to give ourselves a chance.”

Virginia Player Quotes

Junior Cornerback Maurice Canady

On his interception:

“When I saw him step outside, I knew he was going to go out. I broke on it just in time and as soon as I looked, the ball was there. As soon as I started running down the sideline it felt like three monkeys jumped on my back, and then I had to cut back. I was running off of instinct.”

On needing the interception for momentum:

“We came out flat. But, great teams always bounce back.”

Senior Running Back Kevin Parks

What halftime was like in the locker room:

“We had to get going. We came out flat. So, the seniors came out and showed leadership. Then we got it going in the second half.”

On his role as a leader:

“We were just saying that we have to let things come to us, stay positive and have fun. That’s what the game is about. Having fun.”

On Maurice Canady’s interception:

“That was a big boost. He looked like Prime Time [Deion Sanders] going down the sideline. He’s one of the faster guys on the team. It was a big energy boost. We needed that.”

On playing Pittsburgh next week under the lights:

“It’s going to be exciting. I know Eli [Harold] asked for a white out. So, playing under the lights is going to be fun. We have a good team ahead of us and we have to be ready because we know they’re going to come out strong.”

Sophomore Running Back Taquan Mizzell

On the locker room atmosphere at halftime:

“It was a little different. When we first walked in there, no one was talking. Coaches were trying to figure out everything. Then a couple of leaders stepped in there and got everyone pumped up. Henry [Coley] and Darius Jennings stepped up.”

On seeing Demetrious Nicholson back on the field:

“It was great. Seeing him at practice, I got goose bumps just watching him out there. I was so happy for him.”

On his performance:

“Today was fun. Coaches gave me some good plays and good calls, and I was just having fun out there with my teammates.”

On Greyson Lambert:

“I actually didn’t know who was going to start because Greyson was out there during practice and he looked really good so I didn’t know.”

Senior Cornerback Demetrious Nicholson

On returning to the lineup:

“I was excited to be back out there. I haven’t been out there for almost a full year. It was just great to be out there.”

On his nerves:

“I was jittery. I didn’t know what to expect from myself and from my foot, so I was nervous. But, my adrenaline kicked in and after the first series, I went back to what I knew.”

On his interception:

“They threw a fade route, and me and [Chris Humphrey] went up for the ball. We both kind of caught it at the same time, so we had to fight for it and I came out with the ball.”

On if he was nervous when his interception went to replay:

“I was [nervous] because I didn’t even know they were replaying it. I was celebrating with the team and I was so excited that I got an interception. But, then they said it was going to replay.”

On his foot:

“It [his foot] held up pretty well. I didn’t really feel much because of adrenaline. I might feel something tonight. My quads tightened up because I haven’t played a whole game yet.”

Freshman Safety Quin Blanding

On what the message was in the locker room at halftime:

“We knew we had to step it up. We had to bring our fire and our swagger back out to the game and just play our defense and get after it. We knew we couldn’t take Kent State lightly and we came out sluggish in the first half. We just kept fighting.”

Senior Running Back Khalek Shepherd

On the offense taking a step forward:

“Every week, our goal is to get better. We started off slow today, but we’ve built this unity and we just kept going and supporting each other. We made big strides this week, but we need to find the mistakes we made and fix those going into next week.”

On the message in the locker room:

“Guys were lifting each other up. There was no negativity. Everybody was positive, giving pats on the back and saying words of encouragement. When things aren’t going your way, the worst thing you can do is start turning and being negative. So, that’s the first thing I saw – the positivity and the encouragement.”

On pulling away in the second half:

“You always want to do well when you first come out, but things don’t always go like you planned and that’s football. This team is set up to play hard from the first quarter to the fourth quarter. We believed we were better than the way we played in the first half. We just kept plugging away and it worked out for the best.”

On the improvement of the running game:

“It starts with those five guys up front. They’ve been busting their tails since August and they’ve gotten better and better and more confident every week. We believe in those guys and we’re going to keep running behind them.”

Sophomore Quarterback Matt Johns:

On how he found it he was starting today:

“We went through the week seeing how Greyson [Lambert] was feeling and went from there.”

On finding out his 42-yard run was the longest by a Virginia player this season:

“Greyson [Lambert] actually came up to me in the locker room and told me about it. He said ‘You got me by 5 yards!’ The running backs like it because it adds another dynamic to our offense. If the quarterback can make plays along with the running backs and the wide receivers, you have a very dynamic offense.”

On his emotions starting his first career game:

“I don’t get very nervous, but today I definitely was a little nervous. It was more anxiousness than anything else. I was excited since it was my first college start. We started off slowly, but I’m glad we came out strong in the second half.”

Kent State Head Coach Paul Haynes

Opening remarks:
“I’m very disappointed. We didn’t play two halves. We didn’t play very well in the second half. We talk about how the ball is the program and there’s no way, against a quality opponent like Virginia, that you can turn it over five times and win. We have to do a better job of that and we haven’t in the past two weeks. We talk about our fundamentals and it starts with me. We will definitely go back to the drawing board and get better at those things. If we run the ball every down or call one defense, we’re going to get better.”

On only being down four points at halftime after turning the ball over three times:
“You feel good about it but those are things that catch up to you. When you sit there and continue to do it, it’s going to continue to catch up to you. We pride ourselves on winning the turnover battle, but we didn’t today. You just can’t do it. The cream rises to the top when you don’t take care of the ball. You can cover it up for a little while, but it rises to the top and continues to rise to the top when you don’t.”

On the relentlessness of Virginia’s defense:
“We’re a young football team. That’s no excuse but they’re more talented than we are too. We have to make sure we do the little things right, and if we don’t, those things are going to happen to us. Of course we know teams are going to pressure us because they look at our freshman, freshman, freshman, sophomore, sophomore [offensive line].”

On feeling as though things were getting away from the team in the third quarter:
“Yes, when they went up two touchdowns, and the way that they did it. We weren’t stopping the run. We didn’t have good lane integrity. It just wasn’t good football.”

On responding well to Virginia’s pick six:

“Those things are good. The play right before the half could’ve been a big play too – it was points off the board. Again, you can’t beat two teams on Saturday. You can only beat one, and right now we’re beating ourselves. Until we figure it out, that we can’t beat ourselves, this is going to continue to happen. The age and all the rest of it, there’s no excuses. We’ve got to figure out what our guys can do. We’re going to do the little things right and not beat ourselves because that’s what we’re doing right now.”

On the interception call at the end of the first half resonating with the team through halftime:
“No, I don’t think so. The explanation wasn’t very good, but those things happen. [The referees] said that they didn’t feel that he had possession of it. So I guess it was whoever came out with it. If no one had it, don’t call it an interception. We’ve still got to come out [strong]. We didn’t play very well in that first series defensively, had a chance to get off the field.”

On getting good yards on first down:
“We took what they gave us. When you can sit there and throw hitches for five yards, or run the football for three or four, you can get above the sticks. We just have to continue to do it on a regular basis.”

Kent State Player Quotes

Sophomore Safety Nate Holley

On Virginia’s 3rd quarter offense:

“Nothing that they were doing, more so of us missing our fundamentals and techniques, and we had some assignment errors. It wasn’t anything differently that they did, it was more so of us. We beat ourselves in that third quarter for sure.”

On Kent State’s defensive unit causing three turnovers:

“To get turnovers is especially our expectation. It’s something that we emphasize and it’s something that we need to do as a defense to be able to help our offense out. So, getting three turnovers again is just a display of our work in practice.”

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