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I will tell you a little bit of what I shared with the players in the locker room. In life sometimes you get tests and we got a test last week and didn't do as well as you'd like to do. But life's funny - it gives you the same test again somewhere down the line. I thought our kids today rose up, and they proved something to themselves: if you don't ever give up on yourself, you always have a chance.
We talked about the preparation we did during the week - one of the biggest hurdles we had was emotionally and psychologically to put last week behind. It would have been easy to have carried that into the middle of the week and sabotaged every opportunity we had to get a great game plan together and get great focus and effort together.
Our assistant coaching staff, they deserve a tremendous amount of credit for tonight. The game plan they put together defensively to try and minimize the big play capabilities that Virginia Tech had and to minimize the running game. Offensively, sometimes when you play Virginia Tech it's like a 12-round heavyweight prize fight - there are a lot of body blows, it's a physical game, it's a tough game. Sometimes you've got to withstand that first and second round and not get knocked out, especially when you come to play in Lane Stadium. It's a tough place to play, it's Thursday night, the fans are loud. So getting through that first quarter, with the scoring being 0-0 with as shaky a start as we had and as unbelievable field goal position as they had. And I think our kids gained some confidence and composure from that.
Some of the big keys to the game tonight, clearly offensively ... I thought T.J. Yates, in my personal opinion, I thought this was his best performance. In an unbelievably tough atmosphere, his completion percentage was good, two touchdown passes - not making bad plays, not trying to force the ball and allowing the game to come to him. And I thought our receivers and running backs did a great job of keeping us in manageable third down situations. I think we were 10-of-19 on third downs, and that was after starting off 1-of-5. As long as we gave ourselves chances to get 3rd-and-2, 3rd-and-3, 3rd-and-4, we had a shot to keep some drives alive.
I thought our football team showed a tremendous amount of heart with the turnover that culminated in a five-yard touchdown drive. It would have been very easy for us to have slipped back into that mentality of 'Here we go again, this is the same thing that happened last week.' The defense responded, the offense responded.
As is the case of most games, turnovers pretty much determined the outcome. Tydreke Powell's strip on the fumble and Deunta's recovery, that gave us a chance to win the game.
What was going through your head when that field goal went through?
I don't know. I've always dreamed of rushing the field at the end of the game and just seeing the whole sideline of everyone swarming the field was a great feeling.
And to do it on the road ...
There's something extra sweet about winning in a tough place to play - a place some say is one of the hardest places to play in the country - on a Thursday night. That place was so loud I lost my freaking voice from yelling the snap count the whole time. I'm still kind of numb.
Can you describe the feeling running out on the field as the game ended?
You can't really describe it. Everything that you work for just manifests. So we've been waiting - especially me, I've got a little thing against V-Tech for some reason ... it's the best of the ACC so every time you play them you're the underdogs and the underdog won today.
Walk us through what happened with the fumble recovery ...
I saw the ball and I thought the guy was down, but you can't take any chances or anything like that. So I saw the ball come out and I picked up and everything parted like the Red Sea and I thought I was going to score and then it closed pretty quick.
This was a pretty big upset ...
17-point dogs, but we believe we can beat anyone in the country. Line anyone up out here and we'll play them - we're not scared of anybody. Virginia Tech is a great team and for some reason we play them well - the last two years 17-10 and 20-17. We had them last year. We had a great plan coming into tonight, Coach Shoop, Coach Withers, all the coaching staff came up with an awesome plan and we went out there and executed.
Give me a rundown of that last play ...
We went out there, all the guys had confidence in me. I knew I could make it. Ryan Houston did a great job getting me so close and I thanked him for that.
Little bit ... just went out there and kicked it.