Post-Game: UVA coach Al Groh

Read on to see what Virginia coach Al Groh was saying following his team's 52-17 loss to Miami on Saturday.

Opening statement…
"Miami's got a lot of playmakers in all three phases of the game – and we had a lot of difficulty controlling those playmakers and matching those playmakers. We knew what the matchup was going to be coming in, and the whole thing would be if we could control those playmakers and keep them from taking over the game. They did a real good job of framing the game up the way they wanted to, and making it go that way. The critical part of the game was that their pass protection allowed their quarterback to have all the time he needed to the get the speed receivers down the field on vertical routes, and their pass rush made it difficult to have enough time to get free for the quarterback to do much. It took more than that, but those are two particularly significant parts of the game."

On their defense being on the field a lot…
"We played 44 plays in the first half – way above what we wanted. We're very aware of that, we have been for weeks. We came in with a very specific plan to try and keep that from being the case. Clearly we missed the mark on that. I think we had played 70 plays by the end of the third quarter. Part of that is not getting off the field on third down. We had some opportunities to do that in which we let the quarterback out of the pocket. The number one thing coming into the game was keep the quarterback in the pocket. Big circumstance, third down, first series of the second half, we get a good rush on the quarterback, have the chance to make the sack, he does a good job getting free, eventually gets out of the pocket, hits a big play downfield, leads to a score. So we didn't do what we had to do there – that was one of the things on the top of the list, was keep the quarterback in the pocket and we didn't do that. You're right about the play count, we're very cognizant of it, we really wanted to get the number down to a workable number for the defense, but those two circumstances, pass protection on each side were a big factor in not getting the play count where we wanted it to be."

On Thearon Collier's punt return for Miami…
"It was a great individual return. In the special teams meeting last evening, it was pointedly stated that there's a player who has more reputation, but number 28's the guy. He's the more dangerous guy and he lived up to that, that's for sure."

About the low passing numbers…
"They did a good job of locking down the receivers and we didn't have many guys open. They've got some very good pass rushers and it was one of those circumstances where pass rushing and pass coverage combined to put a lot of pressure on the quarterback. He had a lot of plays where he didn't have very many options."

On Wake passing for over 500 yards against Miami last week…
"They have Riley Skinner."

On the blocked punts…
"That was a positive in a wild first half. I think both sides would say there were a lot of plays that they liked and I think both sides would say that there were a lot of plays they didn't like. But we said let's just dismiss all of that, and whether it's 38-31, 24-17 or 7-0, the differential is the same. Just forget about that half and go out there as if it's a 7-0 game, and let's try and play it that particular way. I can understand why people would say that the score is whatever it was, and I keep picking on this one play, but given this set of circumstances, that third down play stays really big with me. We had good initial coverage on the pattern, we had pressure in the pocket and Harris did what he always does – made himself difficult to get him on the ground. And then he got out and found the guy on the cross for a big gain, then all of the sudden we have a chance to follow up on what we said with the seven-point differential, and then it's 14 points, so I thought that really swung things downhill for us. Then we have on the next drive with the controversial plays and that where it started to get out of hand."

On the challenge of playing a talented Miami team…
"It's hard for me to quantify those things, but that's why you call it a challenge. It doesn't matter if it's a nine degree challenge or a 10 degree challenge, once you put that word challenge in front of it, it's going to be tough for the coaches and players. Clearly we played a team – that we could see last year with all of the young players – on their way back to being a powerful team. Earlier in the year it caught our attention when they beat a team like Oklahoma. When you can match up with athletes like that, that was an indication to us. We certainly saw that with our own eyes today."

On protection affecting passing…
"A lot of the coverage was tight man for man coverage. When a quarterback faces that, whoever the quarterback might be, that's a question of you've got to get some individual wins up the field, get the quarterback somebody to target. If he doesn't have anyone to throw it to and he's just sitting there in the pocket and he throws it away, then it's grounding, and that puts a lot of pressure on the pass protection, and that's again why those two things work in combination. The better your pass rush, the better your coverage, and you can put those things together, you've got quite the defense."


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