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Video, Transcript: Jeff Brohm Previews Virginia

The Cards are back at it Thursday night.

Syndication: The Courier-Journal Jeff Faughender/Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK



(Head Coach Jeff Brohm Opening Statement)

“We’re excited to get back on the field Thursday night in front of our home crowd. It is another big football game that we have to go out and find a way to win. I think our guys have played hard here recently. We’ve worked hard to improve and to get better each and every week. We have to continue to stay on that same path. The team we are playing is very competitive. They’ve lost five games by less than four points, and they beat North Carolina on the road. They will challenge us, so we’re going to have to play well and practice well. It’s a quick turnaround, but I think our guys understand what’s at stake. Winning is very important and we have to go out and win the football game.”

(On reliance on run game, any previous team you’ve coached similar to this one)

I think every team is different. You analyze and evaluate who your playmakers are and make sure they get the ball. What are your strengths: defense, special teams, offense and all those things. I think that whatever format we have been using is working. I think not turning the ball over is important. We had three possessions in the first half, that rarely happens. Possessions are becoming less and less with the time clock change or something else, but three possessions in one half is not a lot, so you have to make it work and we have the last few games. Having balance, moving the chains, getting first downs, getting points, not turning the ball over, playing great defense, being aggressive to get sacks, making plays, and being solid on special teams is all important. We’ve been doing something pretty well and we want to continue to build off of that. At the same time, we work the passing game, we work the play action game, and we have to make sure we have the ability to be effective with that as well.”

(On any one aspect that contributes to this defense playing so well)

I think we have good athletes on defense. They like to play aggressively. We have the perfect mix of a few veterans who have played football, but also a lot more guys who didn’t have experience yet and they’re hungry and out to prove themselves. You want that on your defense and on your team. A lot of these guys are trying to make a name for themselves and help their unit perform at a high level. We’ll continue to rotate multiple guys in there as much as we can, and I think we have done that at multiple positions. The depth not only has helped us keep guys fresh, but when those guys have gone down with injuries, whether it be temporarily or for multiple games, we’ve had the ability to adapt and pick the pieces up pretty well. I think the scheme we’re trying to run has gelled well together and they’re playing with a lot of confidence right now.”

(On quick turnaround, having to make sacrifices without those extra two days)

“I think we can adjust and adapt to that pretty well. We try to be forward thinkers in what we do and how we prepare. We have to get guys ready, but yet take care of their bodies and get them to the game healthy, fresh, and able to go full speed. Back to the question about the short week, we’ve had some physical games here. The path won’t be on as much, it will be a little more mental learning, but we will be on the field and we’ll go through all the same scenarios and make sure we’re not missing the boat on that at all. I think we’ve prepared just as hard and as long as we can without banging guys around on the field and being physical in practice. We’re trying to get guys to this game fresh and ready to play physically in the game.”

(On Isaac Guerendo’s game improvement)

“Well, he is a great young man. He’s come in here and been a fantastic teammate from day one. He’s been very unselfish. We feel like we have some depth in the running back room, and they all play a vital role. Of course, Jawhar (Jordan) has made some big plays. He’s very elusive. But Isaac’s a different runner. He’s physical. He can run downhill. He’ll lower his pads. He has good hands and good agility for his size. And as far as straight ahead, he has really good speed. That is surprising to a lot of people. So when they try to tackle him and take an angle on him, they normally don’t take the angle that they should probably should. He’s been hungry. He’s healthy. He’s out to prove himself. He’s a really good teammate. He’s fit in well. We have to continue to feed those guys, get them touches, and let them go make plays.”

(On the home field advantage)

“L&N Federal Credit Union Stadium is a great venue to watch a football game. It’s a fantastic venue – as good as anywhere in the country. So we take pride in that. Our players have loved coming out in front of our fans who have always been into the game, been loud and been vocal of wanting to win and do great things. So if we can give that to them, they’re even louder. They continue to make a lot of noise and stand up and cheer on this football team. All of those things matter. If we can create a tremendous home field advantage from here until whenever, it’s a huge plus. We have to continue to build that and right now we’re in the process of building that to a level that we want, and we’ve got to stay on that path. That’s going to take good football play. Teams that play hard, tough, smart and play until the end, and fans that appreciate that style of playing football. Yes, we want to win as many games as we can, but we have to play that style. A style that people want to watch and want to pay their hard-earned money to be a part of and that will have to continue this Thursday.”

(On managing injuries during a short week)

“Well, it’s a part of the game. After the Duke game, we took some lumps as far as guys not being able to play and having to deal with some things that have popped up. There were key players (out). But we’re going to continue to try to get them healthy and get them on the field. When that’ll happen – with a few of them, I’m not for sure. Some of them are day to day, some of them may be longer. I think we got out of this game as healthy as we could considering the circumstance. There were a lot of new people that stepped in that were fresh, that did well, and that are continuing to be healthy. We’ll work through it as much as we can, and every day is valuable. Even the guys that didn’t play have tried to get healthy as fast as they can, they want to get on the field. And some of them are suffering some pretty good nicks and bruises and probably more than that. So I give them a lot of credit that they want to go out there and help their team win, and the other guys are ready in case they can’t go do that.”

(On tight end position, how was Duane Martin progressed)

“Duane Martin has done an outstanding job. I think maybe early on myself and us as coaches didn’t recognize how valuable he is, so we kind of sold him short early on. Every time he’s been in there, he has produced. He blocks hard, he knows the package, he plays aggressive, he’s more athletic than we even initially thought, and we need to continue to use him in a lot of roles. I just think he’s very valuable to this team. He’s very unselfish. The guys look up to him. He’s a quiet, confident, young man that just plays hard, but he knows his role. He plays it well. He understands what we’re doing. He doesn’t have mental mistakes. He’s very sharp, and we have to continue to use him more. So I think you’ll see him in there as much as we can, and he’s been very valuable, and he’s helped us win a lot of games by playing as well as he has. That’s just due to his hard work and work ethic.”

(On Ashton Gillotte, what has impressed about him this season)

“Ashton reminds me a lot of George Karlaftis, who we had at Purdue and who was a first-round pick of the Chiefs. He can play defensive end, but maybe move inside as well. He has that dual threat ability to do both where he’s a strong in that can, in our opinion, play on the edge of the defense, set the edge, come off the line of scrimmage with power and pop, yet has some speed and quickness as well. If you want to move him inside and create some mismatches, he can do that very well also. He creates push, he’s got quickness and agility, he understands football, he’s really strong, doesn’t miss practice, doesn’t miss reps. I mean, he’s just very durable, and he’s played. He’s already played quite a bit, so he had experience before we got here, and he’s proved very valuable to this defense. We rotate guys in there and try to keep him fresh as well, but he’s a dominant player for us, and it shows up every week.”

(Chance to play in ACC championship, how do you address that)

“Well, I think everyone reads and sees what’s out there on Twitter and all those things and there’s nothing wrong with that. I think for us it’s simple: if you win and take care of business, then good things can happen. We have to come back on the short week and try to win this next football game. If we do that, then good things are still possible, but it’s important that we understand that none of this can happen if you’re not winning.”