This is a 64-point swing.
You like that?
How about you?
Of course. It wasn't pretty, but it was a win so we'll take it. We went out and were resilient. We had a great week of preparation, the coaches and the players. We put that Louisville stuff behind us. We knew this game was really big for us in the conference, real big for our confidence. We put that behind us and went to work. We had a great week of preparation - guys were flying around energetic, excited about practicing and getting out and playing again.
Again, we put up a tough game. Those guys fought tough - they came off an emotional win at Florida State so they were riding the wave a little high. We were off for a week and people might have thought we were out of synch, but we played our hearts out - 7-5, I'll take it.
Did having the week off help you put the Louisville stuff behind you?
Having the week off just gave us a chance to rest. A lot of us wanted to play again so we could get it out of our systems quicker. You guys, the media, kept it floating around and stuff like that. We forgot about it that Monday and were ready to get back to work and prepare for this game. We knew how big this game was for our season and conference records, confidence, everything.
How much confidence did you have that the defense was going to hold?
I think they have been playing well all year. Like I said before I left the locker room, from the offensive side, if I would have had a hat on, I'd have tipped it off to them - but I didn't so. But I still tip my hat off to those guys. They played a great game.
Our defense played as well as they can play to win. And there are still some mistakes they made that we are going to correct for next week. It's always a learning process. They bent but didn't break, and that is what is important. Marques Hagans is a tremendous athlete and is going to make plays with his legs and make throws down the field to his tall receivers… They always have really good tight ends.
But our linebackers had a great game, Kareen Taylor, my roommate, had a great game. They were flying all around. Shelton Bynum got his first sack so he entered the club this week. It w as a great all-around game by those guys.
There was a big catch you made on a third down, I believe, where it almost looked like a screen pass to one of the Virginia defenders but you came out of nowhere to make the catch - what happened there?
Actually, that's a funny story. We have been running that play all week in practice. The first time we ran it, I was supposed to slow down and Matt threw it fast. The second time I sped up, but I was supposed to slow down. We have been working on that play all week long and we wanted to get it in there.
I always tell Matt, when there is a big play - especially on third down - find #9. I have nicknamed myself 'Links,' because I keep the chains moving. I always want to be that guy to make those big third-down catches. Whether it is a tipped turn-around pass that was juggled a little bit, I'm going to come down with it.
Am I wrong, or did I see a different Barrington Edwards running out there today? Whereas you would receive contact and go down sooner in the past, you were dishing out the punishment, gaining yards after contact today more than you have in the past.
Somewhat. I would say that I ran a lot harder today. My coaches made the challenge to me this week and asked me to run a lot harder. I'm not saying I wasn't running hard at first, but every week you can get better.
Ronnie [McGill], if you can't get motivated from a guy like that running, I don't know what will. Watching him go out and run how he's running, I can't let him down by not running hard. My offensive line did a great job. They made the hole and left a little guy for me to run over and give some punishment to - I can do that.
But some of those guys that you ran over weren't very little. There were some very talented linebackers that you ran over a few times or made them miss. You gained yards after contact.
Uh-huh. I wasn't worried about who it was. I just took it upon myself to do what I had to do to help the team win.
You and Ronnie made a good one-two combination, especially on the scoring drive.
Early in the first quarter, Ronnie, Rikki Cook, and I talked about how we needed to bond more as a unit and how we needed to come out as a one-two punch. Ronnie looked at me and said, 'I'm starting to love this,' and said, 'If you like it, I'm loving it.' We looked at each other and said 'Let's go!'
How important were the first couple of drives when you were really running hard as far as setting the tone for the rest of the day?
Everybody knew all week that Virginia has a great defense, and we knew they were coming in [on a high] since they just beat Florida State. Either they were going to knock me out, or I was going to knock them out. That was my attitude.
Virginia has really been more physical the last few years against Carolina. What was the difference this year?
This is 2005. Whatever is back in the day I have no control over. I wasn't even here.
That's nothing we dwell on, [but] we try to use it as a little motivation - enough is enough. They have been beating up on us a little while. They have a bully mentality, so we took care of the bully today. That was our attitude.
This was a big conference victory, wasn't it?
We are 2-1 in the ACC, which is good. We had a team meeting and the seniors talked to the guys and said that our goal of an ACC Championship is not gone. One game doesn't make a season. We have a tough schedule coming up, but if we play well like we know we can and continue to improve we have good things ahead.
When was this meeting?
Wednesday at practice. We wanted to talk to the guys after the loss to Louisville and just let them know that we are still a good football team and we are going to play our butts off against Virginia - and we are going to win. We were trying to get everyone re-focused and revitalized and fired up. Maybe it helped. We had a good week of practice, and everyone responded today, so it was good.
So how do you think you'll feel going to Miami now, after this?
Well, Coach Bunting said we need to stay on an emotionally stable level. We can't get too uppity and we have to go back to work. We go back to work whether it is a loss or a win. You have to practice hard and correct our mistakes that we had in the kicking game, offense, defense. Miami is a great team, we are going to go down there and do our best.
How do you explain the huge swing by the defense from Louisville until today?
Like I've been saying, Louisville was us not playing the defense that we are supposed to play [with] guys missing assignment, not executing like they know they can. It was weird - 19 of the first 20 plays guys were out of position. On defense, when one guy is out of position they can break a big play.
We watched a lot of stuff on the Chicago Bears in '85. They lost to the Miami Dolphins who scored on the first seven possessions, and they came back and won the Super Bowl. We watched that, and Coach Sanders was saying that this is our game. Louisville we got the kinks out, and we are going to come back, refocus, and win the rest. Guys took that to heart. They talked to Mike Singletary and all those guys, and they talked about being the best on every play. I think that really helped.
Where you antsy there at the end on the last play when Mike Mason kicked the ball?
Yeah, I was like, 'What is going on?' I didn't know that Mike had kicked the ball. I didn't even know that was a penalty, and I'm sure he didn't know either. He was just excited, so you can't really fault him for that. It was a freak play. But it worked out; we won. They just postponed our celebration.
What is this "chicken drill" that you all have been doing this past week? Was it effective in helping you to contain Hagans?
Maybe it did. I didn't really get a chance. I always have people all in me and on my shoulders. For the ends I think it really helped.
It's like a 10'x15' coned box, and you put a wide receiver or a skilled guy on one side with a D-lineman on the other side. You basically have 10 seconds to corral him, wrap him up, catch him. We do that every day, and it's kind of funny. It's pretty tiring, but I think it helps you to tamp you feet and keep in good position. We do it if the quarterback is a good scrambler.
You weren't giving up big plays today. How do you explain the change from Louisville until today?
We were just playing smart and not making foolish mistakes and penalties. We made them earn every yard they got.
What was Marvin Sanders like this week in practice?
He kept saying not to worry about the past. Do what you can now because you have no control over the past. He expected us to practice hard and play hard.
Did the fact that you were playing a guy who likes to scramble today and were able to keep in the pocket versus playing a pocket passer two weeks ago make a difference?
I don't like to talk about Louisville because it is in the past. We beat ourselves two weeks ago.
Marques Hagans has a good arm and he can scramble. That is the type of quarterback that you don't want to face because he can run for a first down any time. We kept him in the pocket and kept him from scrambling and doing what he wanted to do.
Take us through the play at the end with the deflection and the interception - what happened?
I was coming on a back side blitz, and the quarterback bootlegged out. The D-linemen had flushed him out and he couldn't throw it when he wanted. He had to hold it a little longer than he wanted to. He was running and I saw him. He was scrambling and wanted to throw.
Coaches say to keep running and not to stop on the play, so I just ran downfield. He threw it, Trimane Goddard jumped in the way and made the ball ricochet into the air. I just kept running and the ball hung in the air long enough for me to get the interception.
So you were on a blitz on the play? You got that deep? That's a big hustle play, isn't it?
We hustle - our defense hustles.
How deep into the backfield did you get?
I don't really know. Like I said, I was just playing and having fun. I don't know how deep I got into the backfield. I have to give credit to Trimane for the deflection and getting it up into the air long enough for me to get the interception.
Was there a feeling of relief when you realized it was in your hands?
When I caught it, we are taught to get down. Usually, I'll catch it and try to run but I did what I was taught. We knew the game was not sealed with that interception. They still had like three time-outs and we still had to get a first down. We knew we still had to go back out there, and we weren't satisfied with the interception.