ACC Coaches Teleconference: UVA football coach Mike London
MIKE LONDON: Happy Thanksgiving to everybody. We’re very excited about playing a very good football team at our place. The significance behind the game, with a college football legend, in-state rival, a lot of things that our players know their players. So many things with stakeholders that root both sides. We’re excited about the opportunity to play this Saturday. Questions?
Q. Mike, I was curious what you’ve seen. Virginia Tech has got a couple of slow starts offensively the last couple of games. What did you see that is kind of holding their offense back early and then allowing it to get rolling later?
MIKE LONDON: Well, they look pretty good to me. Obviously, there might be some execution things that all of us have to deal with, whether it’s starting fast or executing the different calls, making third downs, making your calls that can produce play in and play out. It’s hard to know what it is specifically, but I do know that, when they do get it going, they get it going pretty good because they have very good skill that you’ve got to — Isaiah Ford and Bucky Hodges. The quarterback has done a good job. Their running backs are really good. So it’s a team, a football team that can play defensively. They have some offensive weapons. They do a good job on special teams. It’s a well coached team. We’ll have to be ready for all three phases.
Q. I know that every year is its own year, but considering the way this rivalry has gone the last 11 times, do you think a big start from your team is even more important in this one?
MIKE LONDON: More than anything else, a consistent start, a consistent finish is always needed and required. We had a big first quarter and then had a little bit of a lull and held on. As we played some tough games, we had to come back and do some things. For us, if we could just maintain a level of consistency and convert third downs and be smart about what we do — it’s going to be a very emotional game. Highly charged, a lot of energy. We’ve got to make sure we keep our poise and play with energy and play with our smarts and not allowing things to get out of line or out of character. There’s so many things you can add to this, to the game and all that’s been talked about and the significance of it. It’s going to just boil down to both sides on the field executing what’s being asked of them.
Q. Mike, was last week’s performance your best of the season?
MIKE LONDON: No, not — like Mike just asked a question about what’s it going to take? A consistent effort from us from first through fourth quarter, I would say it was the best. And obviously, our offense the first three possessions driving for touchdowns as opposed to red zone field goals. So there are elements that we did a pretty good job of putting some points up, over 40 points up, and there are elements we did a nice job. But all three phases in the football game, if you’re going to win a football game, have to be in concert with each other, and there were some things we did well, some things that we didn’t. We keep talking about this game having to be our next best game or the game we need to have our best game, from Matt Johns, from our defense, from everyone else. I’d say there’s some elements of it that were good, but there’s still some areas we’re looking to improve in.
Q. Do you think a performance like you had last week, where you did start off fast, can give the guys confidence going into this game on Saturday?
MIKE LONDON: Any performance that you start out and have the results of having three touchdowns and things go your way is always important. We’ve played in tough games, and we’ve lost some tough games as well. It’s just important that the poise part of it and the level of consistency is going to be very important because there will be the emotions and all the other things that are tied into it, but the expectation is the execution of the play on a play in and play out basis. So I know they’ll be ready to play. We’ll be ready to play. It’s always that way when these teams get together, and all the things that as you all talk about, players know about, and makes for a good college football game. So we look forward to it.
Q. Pass rush-wise, they’ve been able to be disruptive and get people in the backfield but maybe not get the sacks they’ve had in past years. They’ll play the first half without Dadi Nicolas. What do you see from their defensive front?
MIKE LONDON: I’ll tell you what, being I’ve been an instate coach and went to college here and coached at several places, you have a professional respect, obviously, one, for Coach Beamer and for Bud Foster. I’ve known him a long time. I’ve known their defenses to be very good defenses. He gets the most out of his guys. He’ll still find a way. They do a lot of things that attack you on protections. They have a lot of very talented guys that can get up the field, and they have inside guys that can push the pocket in the quarterback’s face. So I know they’ll miss their man for the first half, but I’m quite sure they’ll still find some other ways, and another player will step up, like all of us have players that have to step up if somebody else is down or injured, and I’m quite sure they’ll do the same.
Q. I know we went into the year asking you about this on your side. How would you evaluate what your guys have done pass rush-wise and replacing some of the guys you lost from last year’s team?
MIKE LONDON: We’ve done a decent job, a good job applying some pressure. Obviously, we miss two guys that are playing in the NFL now. It’s difficult. But, again, you’ve got to step up and find other individuals that can and will emerge. Mike Moore has done a good job for us. Trent Corney, the last three, four games, he’s played well. We’re going to need him to play his best game and apply pressure and do some things to try to disrupt throwing lanes. The best pass rush is a pass defense, and we’re going to have to be able to do that. As I talked about, they have a trio of receivers that are pretty good for them.