ACC Championship Q&A: Bryce Perkins

Read what Virginia senior quarterback Bryce Perkins said during Monday’s teleconference ahead of this weekend’s ACC Football Championship against Clemson at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte:

Q: Among the injuries you have overcome, the neck, knee and thumb, where did tonsillitis rank in your list of health challenges?

A: It was up there. I mean, definitely not as severe as the neck and the knee. It definitely posed challenges last week and earlier this week just because I was having trouble breathing and I couldn’t practice. I was just feeling miserable in the game against Liberty.

Sports medicine team did a great job of running back and forth and getting me tea during the game to make it more manageable, just to get through it. After the game is when it really got worse. Didn’t really affect me after the Liberty game going into the Virginia Tech game.

Q: Given your dad and big brother’s football background, how early was the ‘You’ve got to play hurt’ mantra instilled in you?

A: Man, pretty early. My parents, my dad, they never really overly pushed me as far as if I’m hurt telling me to suck it up and go back in there. That’s just over time playing a game, kind of just being around my family, seeing how they operate themselves and football, took that approach myself. Definitely it’s more of ‘I can’t let my team down, I’m going to play for my team more than for myself. I have to tough it out for myself.’

If I have an opportunity to play still at a high level while being injured for the guys, they would do the same thing for me. I would do it no matter.

Q: Bronco talked about how he’s grown this program incrementally step by step. Right now the chance to play Clemson, the championship game, possibly an Orange Bowl, do you feel maybe you’re cheating ahead a little and skipping a step, this program got further this year than people were expecting?

A: I mean, not at all. We always talk about unbroken growth in this program. Just think about last year, how close we were to actually winning the ACC and beating Tech. We felt we had the talent and the will last year. We just had to keep it going, keep improving from the mistakes from last year to this year.

It wasn’t perfect this year. We had a couple ugly losses. The way we fought back, the way that we were resilient, is right on line with the program’s growth and the program’s culture that coach built these past years that he was here.

Q: Defensively, Clemson’s numbers are off the charts. What is it, if you’ve seen them, that makes Clemson so good on that side of the ball?

A: They’re great at causing havoc, getting pressure. One way or another, they’ll blitz this side and then they’ll blitz this side. It’s always making teams uncomfortable, making quarterbacks uncomfortable in the backfield, turnovers like that. They do a great job of causing havoc.

We’re going to have to come in prepared and ready for it. This week is going to be definitely important as far as game planning and film watching to make sure we’re in the best situation to handle different and various types of pressures that they bring.

Q: As a player who didn’t grow up in this part of the country, didn’t know much about the ACC, talk about how big a goal it became to beat Virginia Tech and how you got caught up in the rivalry.

A: I mean, all year, from the very first time I stepped in, everybody was talking about no matter what, we don’t care if you lose every single game, just beat Tech. Right there it kind of instilled in me the importance of the rivalry. Especially with Virginia not beating them in 15 years added more incentive to beat them.

Losing last year really made me all the way buy in. Now I’m more personally invested into the rivalry, more driven to contribute to break the streak. I mean, especially after last year, it was like one of the most hated for me personally, the hate in my heart, not for the team, just the passion to beat these guys. Especially after last year is when I really got fully invested into it.

Q: Talking about your tonsillitis, did you lose your voice at all during that period?

A: Yeah, no, it was really bad. Saturday morning during walk-throughs, I couldn’t even call the plays. I had to have one of our other quarterbacks, Lindell Stone, call the plays. I would just clap my hands for the snap.

During the game, second half, it kind of got worse. I gave our center the call sheet, I gave him an extra wristband that had the calls on it, so if I got really bad, he was the one that’s going to call the plays to the group.

It got pretty bad. After the game, kind of just shut completely where I couldn’t put a full sentence together without choking on my words, so…

Virginia QB Bryce Perkins is interviewed on the field following the Cavaliers’ 39-30 win over Virginia Tech (Photo by John Markon).

Q: That was Friday?

A: It was Saturday morning, when played Liberty. Virginia Tech was fine, my voice was perfectly fine. I had all the antibiotics in me, so didn’t really affect me.

Q: You transferred in. Have you been able to get the classes you need to graduate this year?

A: Yeah, I’m in like five classes. Kind of put a schedule together when I first got here to make sure I graduate in December. I’m on track here to graduate in the next few weeks.

Q: What is your degree in?

A: American studies, vision of pop culture.

Q: You’re studying the Kardashians?

A: More my classes are around race in America and race in the media.

Q: I don’t want to be presumptuous, but I’m guessing that you’re looking to play after college, with hope to play in the NFL. Would that be correct?

A: Uh-huh, yeah, that’s correct.

Q: Has anyone talked to you about that? When Lamar Jackson was going to be drafted, there was a lot of talk that he can’t be a quarterback, but a wideout or… Any talk about that with you?

A: Not yet. Definitely some of the things I think about. We’ll see after the season. Right now I’m just really focused on these next two games. After that I can be worried about when I’m done and in the later part of January. I’m not going to worry and get held up too much about that part of my life until after the season is over.

Q: Has it been pretty academically intensive to be able to graduate in December? A lot of work in a short amount of time.

A: Yeah, definitely. But I have a great team, especially the academic coordinators do a great job of making sure I’m on top of all my classes and my schedule is just right to make the load easier on me any way possible.

It’s a team effort, but definitely kind of being disciplined with the classes and the work to make sure I had the opportunity to graduate on time without having any setbacks.

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