Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Virginia quarterback Peter Lalich sat slouched in his chair and avoided eye contact with just about everyone. He spoke slowly and cautiously, being careful to say the right thing.
When asked what might have been his easiest question -- "When did you find out you were starting today?" -- Lalich looked at the floor.
"Um, that's ... I'm not allowed to talk about that," he said.
Whether it was five minutes before the start of the game or five weeks ago, it's irrelevant now.
"Our quarterback turned the ball over too many times today," coach Al Groh said.
For a guy who was so secretive about Lalich for almost six months, it sure didn't take long to call him out.
Lalich completed 18-of-35 passes for 155 yards and was sacked twice, but the rookie line in front of him couldn't hold off the pressure barreling down from USC. Even standout left tackle Eugene Monroe made a few mistakes. Lalich said the time his line gave him was "adequate."
"A lot of times it seems like it might be the linemen's fault, sometimes it's the quarterback's fault," he said. "We have different types of protection. Sometimes it's five men blocking, sometimes it's six men blocking."
Lalich's 155-yard performance is the most by a UVA quarterback in his first start since David Rivers threw for 228 yards against Georgia Tech in 1999.
Still, Groh said, "It wouldn't be right for me or anybody to say that anybody played well today."
Groh knew what he was getting the Cavaliers into when he scheduled them to play the No. 3 team in the nation.
He expected more, though, from his own team, despite the fact that there were 11 Cavaliers who made their first start today against a team contending for the national title.
Virginia was held to 32 rushing yards. It was 2-of-12 on third-down conversions. The Cavaliers fumbled four times, and lost the ball three times. USC punted twice. The numbers go on and on ...
"We knew it was going to take a lot on our part to be able to pull this off," Groh said. "To play as poorly as we played and to have lost is not acceptable. ... Our attitude about our team is it's not OK to play like that."
He can change the attitude. But Groh is going to be hard-pressed to find a better quarterback right now. And after Saturday, it's no secret.