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August 27, 2014

Mike London

MIKE LONDON:¬† Good afternoon, everybody.¬† It's been a productive spring, a largely positive summer leading into our August camp, and now it's amazing we're into game week right now.¬† As you've said, we're playing seventh‑ranked UCLA Bruins.¬† They're coming into Charlottesville, preseason Pac‑12 champs. ¬†Some people have them in the playoffs, and obviously there's some that picked them to win it all.¬† It's a very, very good team, excellent coached team that's coming into Charlottesville.
Our guys are excited about the challenge as you alluded to.  It's on national TV, and we've just been practicing getting ready to have a new season.  It's great to start college football with this game coming up, so I'll take any questions.

Q.  I spoke with one of your linebackers last week, and he said that it was helpful to look back at Mariota and the type of quarterback that he is to be able to prepare for Hundley.  Is that something that you guys have done?  Do they have similarities, those two guys?
MIKE LONDON:  Well, what's big is both of them do an excellent job with their legs, and they can also throw the ball to the targets that are playmakers.  Brett Hundley, again, we all know he's a Heisman Trophy candidate.  He's got almost 8,000 career yards there at UCLA and he's a very dynamic player, and he's a guy that touches the ball 100 percent of the time.  You can try to simulate, you can try to get guys to be him in practice, you can try all types of things and watch film, but when you actually play a player of his caliber, you just have to be very alert and aware of your rush lanes, coverages, just so many things you have to pay attention to because he is such a dynamic player.

Q.  I think one of the issues offensively last year was maybe a shortage of big plays.  What makes you think you'll have more big plays this season, and is that really important for the team's success?
MIKE LONDON:  Well, you can refer or allude to explosive plays.  Those are the things that you can cover chunks of yards in, and with explosive plays, it minimizes the long drives and the opportunity for mistakes.
But what I believe is that we have really kind of changed the mindset of our receiving personnel, as you know.¬† Young men are bigger.¬† They're guys that have gone up vertically and challenged the ball, whether it's in‑field play or in the red zone, and that's a big part of trying to get the ball downfield or trying to get the ball to guys we believe that can be playmakers.
If we can do those things and allow Greyson to‑‑ he's going to have to be accurate for us, he's going to have to be efficient, and again, put the ball up, throw the ball up and let our receivers go up and get it, that's largely a part of these explosive plays and plays that you try to take your players and the talents that they have and use it to your advantage.

Q.  I wanted to ask you about some of the newcomers that we might be seeing this year.  You're bringing in some guys that were very highly regarded, like Brown and Blanding.  Are they in position to contribute right away, or is it going to take some time?
MIKE LONDON:¬† Well, you know, we feel very fortunate to have the class that we have, and I've identified four players that have an opportunity to play for us this year, and that's Quin Blanding, Andrew Brown, Jamil Kamara and Doni Dowling.¬† Those are the four that have gone through the stretch of August camp and have shown skills.¬† What you want to be careful of is just putting them in situations where, one, they've only had‑‑ if you look at it, just a number of college practices to be ready, so you don't want to set them up for failure, but at the same time they came because they wanted to play.¬† But we have to be smart about when we put them in the game and what we're asking them to do, particularly for this game, the first game, and just bring them along.
They're ready to play.  They're competitors, and again, we're glad that we have them on our team, and I know they're looking forward to their first college football game.

Q.¬† I also want to ask you about the offensive line.¬† You lost two pretty big‑time guys.¬† I think both are in NFL camps.¬† Can you talk about how that's shaping up with the hole that you had to fill there?
MIKE LONDON:  Yeah, there was no secret, obviously we have Morgan Moses that's gone on and Luke Bowanko; both of them are playing in the NFL right now.  We have the guys that are here, the guys that are healthy for us, the guys that we feel can best give us an opportunity to play, again, against a very good defensive unit at UCLA, like Mike Mooney, Ryan Doull, Ross Burbank who's played in college games, Conner Davis who's played in games, and Eric Smith who started a good bit last year.  Those are the guys, the front five right now that we believe in.  We did get Jack English and Jack McDonald, they did practice.  They've been involved in the last couple practices, so it was good to see them back.  And you have to go with who you have and guys that have demonstrated performance here as we've gone on in August camp.
We'll have to rise to the challenge of a team that has led the top categories in turnover margins and sacks last year, again, very active, very good defense.  Our guys are ready to play and ready to meet the challenge.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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