Press Conference: Virginia Cavaliers football coach Mike London

London_1Virginia Cavaliers football coach Mike London talks with reporters on Monday. UVA football (4-4, 2-2 ACC) plays at Georgia Tech (6-2, 3-2 ACC) on Saturday in Atlanta, Ga.

 

Q. Anything new on Miles Gooch? Has he had his MRI?
COACH LONDON: No, not at this moment. Waiting for some swelling to go down. As I said last night it’s a very difficult situation for him. Our thoughts and prayers are with him as we try to make some headway into where he is and the evaluation of his knee.
We won’t know till the swelling goes down a bit.

Q. Miles was having a tremendous year. Almost that go-to receiver you were looking for. Who fills in? Is there more of an opportunity for Keeon Johnson or Kyle Dockins to get in?
COACH LONDON: Miles did an excellent job of being that guy. Actually worked himself into being one of those go-to type of guys. We talked about his work ethic pre season and into the season.
Again, one of the things about playing several receivers is no one has been shy of an opportunity to go in a game and play. Obviously there are one or two players that are going to have to step up, provide some of that leadership, some of those play making abilities, able to run those routes, a lot of those things that Miles was able to do.
We’re deep in the receiver position. We’re going to have to have some guys step up.

Q. You also added a name on the depth chart in that position.
COACH LONDON: Right. Jamil Kamara was one of those true freshmen that we played this year. His role has increased. He’s been on special teams units. With the situation we have now, we just have to make sure with Doni Dowling, Jamil, Keeon Johnson, those guys have to step up and give us opportunities to make plays.

Q. Your four ACC games have been determined by a total of 16 points. What does that tell you about your team, the conference and your four remaining games?
COACH LONDON: Well, the team, it tells me we’ve been very competitive this year. We’ve stayed in a lot of games. We won some close games. Obviously the ones that you lose, you always go back and look at what could you have done, the costly errors that were made.
But the one thing about this team thus far, been productive in a lot of areas, a lot of things have improved for us.
What it says about the conference, you look at the teams that are playing each other, particularly in the Coastal, you have games we’ve won that other teams have beat other teams. It’s just one of those things on that given Saturday you have to be at your best. You look at the Coastal, who has played who thus far, it’s indicative of that.
As far as the games that are left to play, again, there’s some good teams left to play. Whether on the road or at home, you have to play your best because as it looks right now, it truly is going to go down to the last game who is going to represent which side of the conference.
For us, we just want to be close, be in it, and have an opportunity to be competitive in the end. That’s the main focus right now for us, is despite the two losses, there is still an opportunity to achieve some goals these guys have set for themselves.

Q. When you beat Georgia Tech in 2011, that was a very experienced defense. You had a bye week to prepare. This is an experienced group, other than Quin Blanding. He’s played well. Does that give you confidence, knowing you have guys who have seen it before?
COACH LONDON: It’s important that you have guys that have played in football games. Particularly now we’re talking about an offense that Coach Johnson has done, again, a great job in mastering his offense. Has a little bit of not only the spread option look to it, but also when he was at Hawaii, some of the elements with the play action look to it. He’s taken it to another level for them.
It’s important you have had guys in games that have played against that. We have guys that have played against that style of offense. It’s equally as important for us now to understand that their quarterback is a special player. They have the fastest guy on their team, one of their backs. They lost Laskey, their fullback, another young man stepped in and just kind of fit the system and kept the system rolling.
We watched the Pittsburgh game. You get five turnovers in the first half, that’s a pretty good deal for them. But they just run. They do what they do. They do it like clockwork. It’s going to be important for us, the defensive guys, to make sure not only assignment oriented but also understanding that this is going to be a grind it out type of game, and we got to be ready for it.

Q. I don’t know whether you’ve heard Alec talking about the on side kick, he thought it was executed perfectly. Having watched it on video last night the guys didn’t turn their back. What did you see on that play?
COACH LONDON: Again, they did execute perfectly on that. If you’re going to critique what we did, probably should have had Kyle [Dockins] maybe a little wider. Where they kicked it was one of those right behind, had to turn around and get it.
Again, that’s one of those things, it was a big call on their part to go for it at that point, but they executed. If you remember the Pittsburgh game, they tried one like that, didn’t go 10 yards, we got the ball back.
Again, it’s a learning situation for us that those one play opportunities, particularly the special teams aspects, they can be critical. In this one, they were.

Q. Your defense has been doing a good job of limiting explosive plays till Carolina hit you for three or so. Georgia Tech is known for popping those big plays every now and then. What is the challenge there?
COACH LONDON: Georgia Tech is an offense that if you’re poor on your assignments, execution of your assignments, they can hurt you because they have the type of skill set to do that. What adds to that element is their quarterback. I heard Coach Johnson say he’s the fastest they’ve had at that position. Their receivers are skill players. If you try to overload and stop the run, the he will play action pass. They’ve thrown more than they have in the past.
It’s indicative of teams trying to load up and stop the run. Off the same option look they throw the ball down the field.
It’s going to be important for us, as I said before, to play assignment football, but we have to run, rally to the football, because that’s a fast offense we’ll be playing against. They’ve been successful. I think they’re number one in the country in converting third downs. There’s no secret they’ll go for it on fourth down.
You look at the time of possession. What’s interesting is I believe both of us are very close in the time of possession when we have the ball. It’s going to be important for us offensively when we have the ball that we make the most out of it in terms of whether it’s points or field position because they have the ball, they’re one of the tops in first downs, they’re first in third downs, they’ll go for it on fourth downs. You look at the two teams, the possessions they have.
For us, important to score, and field position is going to be critically important. For us special teams has to be a critical element for us, as well. We have to make sure they start at the long field as opposed to the field positions the last couple teams have gotten.
It’s a challenge, but we know the challenge. Our guys are ready for the challenge.

Q. You working any option looks with the defense in the summer or during the course of practice so it’s not a one week cram session?
COACH LONDON: You try to do that during the course of time you have, during the summer, parts of August camp. When we had an open week, there are certain days we designated towards read option type teams, designated a day for this spread option look, as well.
You try to do as much as you can because it’s hard in just one week’s time, we practice on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, it’s hard to try to simulate, get all the time. You never do it. You never get it exactly how you want it. The more times you can look at it and see it, the more you feel prepared for it. We try to take some opportunities to do that.

Q. Who will run as the scout team QB?
COACH LONDON: David Watford is probably as good as anybody, fast. David can do a lot of good things. That will be a challenge for us. But you have the type of guy like David that can execute that style of offense.

Q. Does it make you feel any more comfortable to have a defensive coordinator who has been facing this team for years, not just at your place, but maybe at North Carolina and NC State?
COACH LONDON: Maybe at Notre Dame. I believe that opportunity or experience that a coordinator’s had is one of the things, particularly for us, looking towards older guys now. We’ve been playing fairly well defensively, aside from some breakdowns here and there. It’s important that experienced coaches have, not only Jon, but Mike Archer, Jappy Oliver, Chip West, you take a game plan, put it together, so you understand the different elements, the dive, the quarterback, the pitch, the counter option, the play action passes off of that so you’ve played it enough that you try to come up with a game plan to at least minimize any big hurts or big effects that may affect your team.

Q. Coach Archer talked before the season started about having experience with David Amerson after he came off a big interception year, took them out of their defense. Anthony came off of a big year last year. The interception is not as high, tough to match. How has he done in relation to last year?
COACH LONDON: Anthony has done a pretty good job of just managing things back there. Again, when you have a true freshman that’s playing next to you, obviously I believe Quin is in the top five or so in the ACC in tackles, when you have a guy you’re communicating with, when you’re the integral part in the pass coverage, but also because of what we do defensively you’re also very important to the running game.
Anthony’s role has somewhat changed a little bit in being the coach on the field, being a guy involved in the run, and making a lot of the calls defensively for us back there in the back end.
But Anthony is still very productive. Still with four regular season games left, he’s wanted to have the type of success that he had last season. Right now, defensively, like I said, we’re doing a nice job. We could get better. I’m quite sure he wants to have those interception opportunities.

Q. As you look back on last year’s game against these guys here, they won the game. They didn’t post outrageous numbers, which they can. As you evaluated that game tape, how did you feel like you defended them last season?
COACH LONDON: You know, it was better. I don’t know if there’s a team that actually shuts that offense down. I do remember Jake Snyder had a pretty good game because of the tackles and the things he was involved with. Again, that’s that type of offense that the different releases of the linemen, the backs, that’s just something that you have to be in tune to. With Eli and Max Valles on the end, they’re guys that have played in games like that.
It’s always a challenge because of the different elements that they present. You can be wrong on one assignment and it could hurt you big time. The challenge for us is to play a consistent four quarter game of assignment, run to the football, minimize the mistakes we make ourselves that could lead to big plays for them.

Q. It seemed like in the nickel the other day, a fair amount of time Donte Wilkins was in there for Mike Moore. Was Mike nicked up at all or you wanted a different look inside?
COACH LONDON: A little bit of both. Again, those ankle sprains are issues that you can’t come back from those things like you feel you can. You feel you can play, but at the same time you have to be able to turn and run and all those things.
But Mike is getting back to being 100 percent. Donte has improved his opportunities to go in the game. Again, this is a game that a guy like Andrew Brown should have an opportunity to play as well because of the style of blocking, because of the run game. They’re not as much of a hurry up offense, so to speak. It will be a physical game up front.

Q. We had Sadiq in here in the media setting. Can you spell and/or say his last name correctly?
COACH LONDON: Sadiq Olanrewaju, I believe. That’s why I just call him Sadiq (smiling).

Q. You get to know your players on a personal level. How much of the background story that he has did you know about? What attracted you to want him to come here and become an offensive lineman for you?
COACH LONDON: It is an interesting story about Sadiq, his background, his family, with his grandfather having some royalty in his life.
Sadiq went to a prep school, so to speak, became a better player. I had a chance to sit in his home with his mother and his sister, just kind of see who they are, what type of people they are.
He’s got a great mom that’s doing a great job raising her family. But Sadiq wants to do well. The word ‘student athlete’, you can look at him, school is important to him, as education should be to any young man.
Playing football is important to him. I believe that he’ll be a player that will be a very good player for us, even though he’s had a little knee issue at the beginning of the season. He’s still playing. He’ll get better. I believe he has a bright future ahead of him.

Q. You mentioned this last night. Looking at the playback, they called the second pass interference on Phelps. It looked like if there was any play, it might have been holding on Hoskey. Have you gotten any answer on the second pass interference?
COACH LONDON: Not as of yet. There’s the process we go through with the ACC, Doug Rhoads. We’ll get feedback. We have an opportunity to turn plays in and get feedback on what they thought or what the official thought, then put it to bed basically.
As of yet, I have not gotten anything back. We’ll remedy what we have to do.
As I said, a penalty was called. We had five penalties on defense, none on offense, two on special teams. That’s way too many. We got to do a better job of reducing the number of penalties regardless.

Q. Georgia Tech’s defense has given up a lot of yards particularly in the passing game. Can you talk a little bit about their defense and how you think Greyson has performed the other day, what that might present to him.
COACH LONDON: Well, what you first go on is the last thing you saw, which is the game against Pittsburgh, five turnovers. They did an excellent job of attacking the football. That has the main primary emphasis for us is to hold onto the football because you can see how quickly a game can get out of hand.
Teams have been able to run the ball, throw the ball on them. As of late, this last game, they played pretty good defense. I’m sure having a home game for them – they’ll be ready for us, as well.
Greyson, if you look at the games that he’s been in, this was his best game in terms of throwing the football. Had over 200 yards throwing the ball. All the other games before that, 100 something.
Again, outside of the last screen throw to KP, he played a pretty good game. Now he’s going to have to play another pretty good game again. This defense, they do a nice job of they’ll send people from all different places, but they play fast. They’re playing inspired right now. They are the front runners basically with three conference wins right now. We have to make sure that a coastal conference opponent, that the outcome be advantageous for us as well. I don’t believe they play any more Coastal division teams outside of us, this being the last one.

Q. You mentioned style of blocking. You’re a former defensive line coach. How difficult and how different is how they do things? I don’t want to get you in trouble with Paul Johnson, but just preparing for it and getting your guys ready and adjusted to it.
COACH LONDON: Paul teaches his linemen to block within the confines of the rules. One of the things as a defensive lineman, you have to be able to use your hands coming out of your stance. One of the things they do is predicate it on getting you down on the ground, not only on the inside, but the outside, the perimeter. If they do pitch the ball, they have a lead blocker out there, could be a safety. We have to spend time with our hands out in front, scooting your legs, different techniques coaches teach.
As I said, it’s a physical game inside because of the style of blocking, the legal style of blocking. We just can’t stand in cement. You got to move your feet. That’s why the different linemen group will practice this week to make sure we keep guys in there fresh, keep guys that can be aware this is the blocking scheme, got to use your hands, got to move your feet.

Q. You mentioned Andrew Brown in connection with this style of blocking. Is that getting him into a larger rotation or something he’s done well that would make him effective against this sort of thing?
COACH LONDON: It’s more so a young man that we committed to playing. At this point we talked about Mike Moore, we talked about Donte Wilkins, David Dean. Mike Moore has played some inside. He can also play outside. That gives Max or Eli opportunities to come out.
Going down the stretch here, we’re going to need everybody, as I said to the team. We’re going to need everybody that’s been playing, has played – we’re going to need them. This is a game that could require a lot of guys playing.
But particularly going down the stretch, if you want to stay fresh, you want to have opportunities for guys to make plays – you got to put guys in the game to do that.

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