Louisville HC Jeff Brohm
“I am really proud of our guys. This team, Virginia, came ready to play. They have had big wins at North Carolina, took Miami into overtime. They know how to play football. We got off to a little bit of a shaky start, but we still had the lead but then the interception for a touchdown kind of shifted the momentum in their favor. They had the one fumble that they picked up and took in for a touchdown again in their favor. But I am proud of our guys to hang in there when things were not going our way and play to the end and find a way to make enough big plays to win the game and make stops at the end. That is really how football works. You can go back and look at it but when you play good teams you have to find a way to make one play than they do and make one more point than they do. Fortunately, we were able to come out with the win. In all of our victories, I am probably proud of our team hanging in this one any of them. They could have easily lost confidence and start to doubt themselves a little bit. But they didn’t. They played to the end. I am really proud of them without question. That one injured player from Virginia, I hope he is okay. That was unfortunate, but I hope he is okay.
(About 4th quarter adjustments)
“The last drive that we had, we just called a few little simple play action plays and Jack (Plummer) did a good job of throwing to the open guy and finding the check-down a few times. Then we took one shot down deep and Ahmari (Huggins-Bruce) did a great job of getting open. Looking back, I have to find Ahmari and our slot receivers the ball more. We were running the ball well and not throwing it a whole lot, but I need to do a better job there. Our defense got a good stop and got us the ball back. We ran a play to the weak side and our line did a great job of blocking and Isaac (Guerendo) had a couple of good series there, so we stayed with him. He took it, headed downhill and saw the crease and they couldn’t catch him. It was just a good play and great blocking by our offensive line. We needed it. You just have to hang in there and play to the end. It wasn’t perfect, but I am proud that we hung in there and found a way to win this game.
(About the similarity to the Pitt game and the lessons from that game helped in this game)
“I think so. I think any time you turn the ball over it hurts. Any time you turn it over and they score on it hurts. Of course, we had that happen at Pittsburgh and we continued to have turnovers and miss field goals like we did today. We just kind of circled the wagons a little bit and got it going in the right direction and found a way to make a few plays at the end. I was disappointed that we had that little rut there. But you know what? I think as we continue forward, we are going to play good football teams and we will have some ruts like that. We need to be able to bounce back and be able to switch the momentum as quick as we can and now allow the game to get out of hand. We kept this game close. We got a great stop when we stopped them for just a field goal. It gave us a scoring range that allowed us to come back. It gave us hope. I think all our guys played hard until the end. We needed every last bit of it. I give Virginia a lot of credit. They did a very nice job. They came ready to play. They had a good second half, but we were able to finish in the end.
(About close games at IU and Georgia Tech and what is about this team not losing confidence)
“Well, I think we have a good coaching staff that we try to preach hard work and preparation – all those things. Talking through them that everything is not always going to go perfectly. Everything is not going to be exactly how you design it. Some days some guys are going to make more plays. Some days another guy is going to make more plays. You just have to hang in there and play together. These guys stuck together. We have had some close games that we could have easily could have lost. I would be sitting here not in the great position that we are, but we found a way to win. Hats off to our coaches and our players because they have done enough to win the game. You go back, circle the wagons, figure out how to get better and correct things. We have done that every week. We aren’t bashful about identifying the mistakes we make and how we can get better. So, we will do it again. I think our team should enjoy this and get a mental break because like I said, we finish the season with two really tough opponents that we are going to have to be more efficient and play better in order to win.
(On talking with Jack after the third quarter)
“I talked to him, and he understood. He was a flustered a little bit, you could tell he was a little jumpy in there, but I have been in those shoes. You are going to get a little jumpy when things aren’t going your way, you are getting hit, you threw an interception, you are going to lose a little bit of confidence. You just have to take a couple deep breaths and relax and say, ‘hey, give me another chance, let me go show them.’ I just think he has played enough football that he knew how to do that. He rallied the troops, he had an efficient drive where he threw the ball where he needed to, he found the check down and then he throws a wide-open deep pass. He launches it out there and put its right for Ahmari (Huggins-Bruce) a big one and then of course the next drive was easy with a handoff to Isaac (Guerendo) but he played to the end. I think every little thing matters in these types of games but to come out of this one with a victory is a great ending for us.”
(On how to get the team back on track after the third quarter)
“Well they did a good job trying to stop out running game, our inside runs and some things they were doing a good job. They mixed up the coverage a little bit, kind of confused our quarterback a couple times. We weren’t as precise as we like to be. We had a couple of penalties that hurt us. Jawhar (Jordan) was wide open down the sideline going into score, but he ran a little but out of bounds unfortunately that hurt us. Those things kind of stop drives, and their quarterback played well, and they made plays. They have receivers that can play, and they made plenty of plays as well and challenged us. Quarterback draw, we couldn’t tackle him, and he made big plays. Just fortunately we hung in there and we have been battled tested, we had enough games that weren’t easy, so I think we are used to it. While the last two were great days for us, that is just not realistic even though that is always the goal. Just proud they hung in there until the end.”
(On how much the culture has impacted the team in close games)
“Well I think it matters. We try to provide an environment here where starting with myself and working with our coaches and players, we got to put the work in and it has got to be visible. You have to be willing to do your part and I think when things don’t go your way and you make mistakes, I have to take blame first and then we move it to the coaches and then we try to figure it out with the players how to get it done. It is not easy to play football, it is tough, it is a tough, physical football game. it takes so much preparation and toughness and grit to go out there. We have plenty of guys that are playing injured. Jamari Thrash has a hand that he continues to play through. We have other guys that continue to get back there so I give them a lot of credit. I think it is a good nucleus of guys. They like coming over to this building, they like playing in this stadium. They want to win. They know it’s not always going to be perfect, but I think as long as you play to the end, we don’t lose confidence, we continue to fight and battle throughout the entire game, hopefully when it is over you have one more point than they do. I think for the most part this year we have done a good job of that.”
(On what he told his team after falling behind for the first time tonight)
“Well, we had the interception for a touchdown and of course we backed them way up and they threw a little swing pass, we make a tackle and the ball pops and they pick it up and score. So, they were just getting some breaks and I am sure we got breaks as well the past couple of weeks but they got a couple breaks and capitalized on it. We knew that we just had to keep fighting and playing to the end. We talk about it all the time. We go against our defense a lot and they shut us down a lot, and it is not fun but you have to go back out there and try it again. A couple of times we might have some days that we make some plays, but they have to continue to keep battling to the end. I think it takes everybody on the team, they want to win enough that they just stuck to it and our coaches coached to the end and we just try to stay in the moment. Stay in the moment and play to the end and hope that you can get a win when it is all over. I thought our fans were into the game. I am sure there were worried there for a while, but they hung with us and we continued to play hard so proud of our fans for helping us out.
Quarterback Jack Plummer
(On getting things going)
We knew we were close and we were just doing litle things like dropping passes and there were penalties. Obviously, the pick six was terrible, but we were able to hang in there. We knew that we could move the ball on these guys and we could score. We just had to take it one play at a tome. Just do one play, do your job, and find a way to get it done.
(On what a win does for the team)
The goal every week is to win the game and that’s what we found a way to do. It wasn’t prety by any means, but I think that’s a sign of a good team. When things aren’t going your way, you find a way to gut it out and find a way to win. I think that’s another step for us. We’ve had a couple games where we have been down and we found a way to come back to win. We just need to keep building off of that, learn from this game, and then get ready for next week.
(On Ahmari Huggins-Bruce’s play)
We had a similar play in the second quarter where I missed Jamari [Thrash] deep. We had a similar route concept and they were in a cover two, so he was able to split down the middle. He’s a fast guy, so he was able to get behind the defense and then from there it’s just trying to pitch and catch.
(On previous games shaping this one)
I think we were able to draw back on past experiences we’ve had and guys on this team have played a lot of football. We never thought we were out of the game. We were all on the sideline staying positive. We knew that the game was four quarters long and it might not be going our way right now, but we have to find a way to make it go our way.
(On Perris Jones’ injury and how the team responded)
We’re obviously praying for him and that was scary. I think everyone in the stadium was quiet. For me personally, I was reflecting on what was happening. Then we had to recenter ourselves and understand that we still had a game to play. The conversations I had at that point were about how we were down and I said we needed to find a way to win, reset, and do our job. It was obviously a tough situation and we’re praying for him. Hopefully he gets better.
(On what changed in the fourth quarter)
I sound like a broken record right now, but we’re taking it one play at a time. Obviously, the play to Ahmari [Huggins-Bruce] was huge, but the plays before that guys were doing their job and we were taking bits and pieces at a time on that drive. We were getting into a range where we could take a shot to the endzone. We were just stacking plays together.
(On things not clicking early on)
There’s no doubt that we weren’t playing clean. We weren’t playing well. We weren’t playing clean. We did feel out of sync, and we understood that. We came into halftime when it was 14- 0, but the offense only scored seven points. The special teams scored seven points, so we only scored seven points on offense. We knew that we had to regroup and do our jobs. We were able to find a way to do that in the fourth quarter and that’s when it really counts.
Safety Devin Neal
(On the interception)
I was just looking at number four (Malik Washington). That’s their guy. He’s a really good receiver. He’s played a really good game and I saw Quincy (Riley) was on him. And I was just like, ‘Wherever number four goes’. I was screaming to let them know that I’m here in the middle of the field l. So as soon as he broke, I broke too, and I saw the ball and I took it. In the moment, I was like ‘Wait I just caught the ball?’ It was a nice little play.
(About the team’s ability to finish games)
The thing about those situations goes back to the way we practice. In practice, you get one chance to do it right or it doesn’t happen again. And I feel like that transfers over to the game. Because in practice, you’re stressed out, you’re thinking you have to make this play, you can’t let them catch the ball. In the game, of course, you’re going to feel the same way. It’s a stressful environment. One play, no do overs. I feel like having that situational awareness in practice and translating it to the games is really beneficial to our team overall throughout the season.
(On the defense’s mentality following Ahmari Huggins-Bruce’s touchdown)
Well, honestly, nothing really changed. We had the same mentality down or up. We were just trying to stay positive and cheer the offense on. We just regrouped as a defense and we have to get stops. That was the emphasis. When we went up, we were just trying to maintain it and keep doing what we’ve been doing. We tried to do the best we could to keep everything under control.
(On the team dealing with adversity)
You don’t want to cake walk through the schedule. You need bad things to happen in order to build character for your team. Litle moments like this really build our character as a defense. It gives us a backbone. It builds us up in many different ways that we wouldn’t experience if we didn’t go through this. This is going to be beneficial in the later part of season every game maters. There’s going to be something on the line every time. Everybody’s going to be bringing their best foot forward.