Oct. 4, 2007
Sophomore wide receiver Justin Jarvis has recorded eight catches for 101 yards and one touchdown this season. The Bloomfield, Conn., native's nine-yard TD reception helped the Eagles defeat cross-state rival Massachusetts 24-14 on Saturday. Jarvis and the Eagles host Bowling Green on Saturday, Oct. 6 at noon.
Talk about the starting wide receivers, Kevin Challenger and Brandon Robinson. What skills do they bring to the team and what guidance do they give the younger players at that position?
They are very confident guys and we know going out there that they're going to have their assignments down to a T. They're going to know exactly who to block, what routes to run to the precise depth. We know that what they do out there makes a good impression on our wide receiving corps. So when we go out there we want to do that too, to make the whole corps look good. If we make a mistake in practice, they'll come over and give us guidance as to what they look for in the defense, for instance. That really helps you out and it gives you an extra partner besides the coach. You have your peer telling you what to work on.
Talk about the emergence of the sophomore wide receivers - you, Rich Gunnell and Clarence Megwa. How have you guys stepped it up this season?
I think it starts from the top with Brandon and Kevin. They basically laid it down to us that it's going to start with the wide receiving corps if we're going to have big games and go far this season. So we all got together and we made a pact that we're going to go out there, run our routes correctly, catch the ball, help out Matt, and help out the whole team in general. We just stepped up and I think we all know our roles and are doing it correctly out on the field.
You scored your first career touchdown on Saturday against UMass with a nine-yard reception. Talk about that play and how it feels to now have a touchdown under your belt.
The guys were joking with me for a while about not having a touchdown. I was one of the last guys on the receiving corps to catch one. So I went out there and I knew I'd have a possibility because of the play we were running. I ran the play correctly, ran hard, saw Matt scramble to get open and made sure I grabbed it and held onto it.
Are there any skills that you've been working to improve in your own game?
I've been working on making all the routes look the same. If you have routes that look differently, the defender will know what to do when you come off the ball in a certain way. If you make them all look the same, then they really don't know how to defend you in a specific way.
You're at the receiving end of passes thrown by one of the nation's best quarterbacks in Matt Ryan. Talk about the senior play-caller.
Matt's play is incredible. I came in knowing he was a really good player, but just playing with him over the summer, doing seven-on-seven, doing individual drills with him, he's an incredible quarterback. He gives me confidence that I've never had before. He can put the ball in a spot where not many quarterbacks can and I just have to make the catch and make him look good. When we have an off-drive, he'll be the first one to prove the point that we need to step it up and we need to make an improvement. The defense helps us out a lot, but Matt is in charge of the offense per se. He just comes in our face and tells us what we have to do right, what we've done wrong, how to improve on that. He just leads us; he's a true leader.
The Eagles have put together three scoring drives of over 90 yards this season. Talk about the ability of the offense to make big plays and keep long drives alive.
I think the big change this year is with the offensive coordinator. Coach Logan wants the big play, the explosion play, and that can happen at any point in the drive. We have the defense on its heels most of the time, switching from passing, to running, to screen plays. The play-calling is really helping out the offense as a whole. I feel it's well-rounded this year.
The stifling play of the defense has allowed the offense to get back on the field quickly this season. Talk about the importance of the defense to the team's success thus far.
The defense came on strong. I knew we had a lot of starters returning and we've got good defensive backs out there. They're doing a really good job. The linebacking corps is amazing. I'm a little scared to go across the middle against them in practice. They're definitely making me better. As a whole, the defense has created turnovers in the red zone, which is key. Those turnovers help us out a lot because they set us up for drives to go ahead and score.
Midway through this week of practice, how does the team look as it prepares to host Bowling Green on Saturday?
We're looking phenomenal. We're just keeping to the grindstone. We see all these top-10 teams losing and we jump into the top 10. It's really not making our heads any bigger. We're just focusing on the task at hand and that's Bowling Green for right now. We're looking one game ahead. We're not looking too far down the schedule because there are a lot of big games and every one counts.
There have been a number of key injuries this season, but they have not plagued the squad. How has the team been able to overcome those setbacks?
We just look at it as there are guys who are very good and then there are guys who are waiting to fill that role. The guys that are two-deep, three-deep, they're looking at the guys ahead of them and learning from them. Everybody's learning, trying to get better. When we do have a guy go down, we have guys that can replace that guy and be just as good.
Talk about what Coach Jagodzinski has brought to this program and let us in on the best part about playing for Coach Jags.
Coach Jags is a very vocal leader, much more than Tom O'Brien. He's interactive. He'll come out there on the field with us. He'll get in the faces of the offensive linemen. He'll scream and yell. He'll be just like one of the quarterback coaches or one of the wide receiver coaches. He'll come out there and be into it. When you have a guy like that leading you, you want to play for him as much as you want to play for yourself. Then you also want to win for the guys around you. Coach Logan and the rest of the new coaches, they've all brought this intensity that we hadn't seen before. They're making us the best we can be right now. They're pushing us every day. They know we're tired sometimes, but it's going to work out in the end.
The Eagles are 5-0 for the first time since 1954. What makes this team so special?
We just have a drive this year. I can see it in the eyes of the fifth-year seniors and the seniors now. They have the will to win. They want this ACC Championship and they want to go to a good bowl game. We've consistently gone to a bowl game, but they want to be better each year and go to a different place. That's really impressed upon us younger guys to try to make it good for the seniors, make them have a good year before they leave.
The Eagles have climbed to No. 7 in the AP poll after a win against UMass on Saturday. Does the top-10 ranking bring any added pressure?
Walking around the locker room, guys have a different outlook. We're almost in shock that we're top-10, but then we look back at how hard we worked over the summer and how much we put into it and we believe that we deserve to be there. We just have to keep working on getting better. We can't keep doing what we've been doing. We have to improve every week because there are teams coming after us.
When you're not on the field or in the weight room, what do you enjoy doing with your free time?
The guys and I recently got Halo 3, so we spend plenty of hours in front of the TV. When we're not reviewing our film, when we're not trying to study for exams or anything, we're playing Halo 3, listening to music, just enjoying ourselves.
Interview conducted by sophomore Geoffrey Kehlmann