augusta free press news

UVA senior Matt Johns back to competing for starting QB job

matt johnsUVA senior quarterback Matt Johns has started 15 games as a Cavalier, including all 12 games in 2015, throwing for 3,919 yards and 28 touchdowns in his career.

But after throwing an FBS-worst 17 interceptions as a junior for a team that finished with a 4-8 record and its head coach getting the axe, Johns is fighting for his job.

“It’ll be fun, it’ll be competitive. It’s going to be about just taking it one game at a time, and really just competing and getting better every single day for our team,” said Johns, with an obvious extra dose of political correctness in his answer.

Johns has been credited with helping ease the transition from Mike London to new coach Bronco Mendenhall, leading the effort to embrace the needed change in culture in the locker room.

“When there is a coaching change, there has to be something that holds the team together. A lot of the leaders on this team got together and said, We’ve really got to take the initiative. And when the coaches first got here, that’s what we did. It was really about maintaining that leadership and that trust with the team,” Johns said.

Johns is looking forward to working in new offensive coordinator Robert Anae’s system, which blends read-option and spread principles with an emphasis on tempo.

“It’s very explosive,” Johns said. “Last year I was a lot under center. I was making decisions at the line, checking runs, checking passes. This year it’s about playing fast, simple and decisive. If we can do those three things, we can be very effective.”

In the here and now, Johns is “really just taking it day by day.”

“My focus now is practice number one, and keeping that focus, staying in the present, is the most important thing,” Johns said.

Story by Chris Graham