Cavalier Corner

October 2014

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camp, this is what they trained me for." Blanding also got his first introduction to big- time football, when UCLA quarterback and Heis- man Trophy candidate Brett Hundley rumbled past him at the goal line with about a minute left in the third quarter. The TD gave the Bruins a 28-17 lead at the time. "I was real close," Blanding said of almost stop- ping Hundley from getting into the end zone. "I was real close. Sometimes things happen, but I've got to keep making plays and we've got to keep making plays on defense and offense. He was pretty tough." " T h e o n e t h a t m a d e SportsCenter on that one, when Hundley scored the touchdown?" head coach Mike London said. "I tell you what, Quin is obviously a player with excellent skills and talent, and he will get better and be better. For him, playing next to Anthony Harris is very important, and it's going to be critical to his success as well. "But what a terrific young man he is," London added. "So many examples I could give you about not just on the field stuff that he's doing, but some off the field things that he does as a teammate and representative of this university are outstanding already as a first-year. He'll have opportunities to play and get better as the season goes on. Like I said, he's an excellent young man." Harris said after the game that he thought Blan- ding did a very nice job of handling everything coming at him in his college debut. "You grow up really fast," Harris said. "I told him, 'You can't grow up during the season.' So we've had time during camp to go over stuff and try to put him in tough situations, but when you simulate that you come out here on Saturdays and it's a little bit of a different thing. "But I think he did a good job. After the first play, after the first couple of plays, I looked at him in his eyes and he seemed really settled, seemed comfortable. That's what we expect out of him." The following week, Blanding showed just how settled he really is when, in the course of a domi- nating defensive performance by the Cavaliers in a 45-13 romp over Richmond, he collected his first collegiate interception. He almost helped cause his team's first defen- sive touchdown of the year, when his hit on UR's Rashad Ponder in the second quarter nearly caused a fum- ble inside the 25-yard line. Two plays later, on first- and-10 from the 31, Blan- ding picked off a Michael Strauss pass downfield. "We've been practicing that play all week," he said. "And I saw Penn State run a similar play [that morning]. So I thought, 'Okay, they might have a chance of running this play.' So I just sat in my zone and we just played it hard defensively and went after the ball." Through two games, UVa's defense had nine takeaways that led to 31 points. In contrast, the Cavaliers had 21 takeaways in 2013 but got only 13 points off of them. And through the season's first two games, the Wahoos gave up only two of- fensive touchdowns, something they haven't done since 1998. Needless to say, rookie or not, Blanding is hold- ing up his end and then some. "I'm feeling really good," he said after the win over Richmond. "Just coming off of last week's game and putting in work throughout practice this whole week and just learning the schemes and concepts for this game, we just put it on the field … I was still nervous. I mean, everybody is always nervous. But it just felt good to be out there with the team and just being physical, play- ing fast as a unit." ◆ "Quin is obviously a player with excellent skills and talent, and he will get better and be better." HEAD COACH MIKE LONDON ON BLANDING

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