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September 24, 2014

Mike London

MIKE LONDON:  Good afternoon, everyone.  We have a chance to get back on the winning ledger here, playing a team that I know is hungry in Kent State.  They were off this last weekend, so they come having an open period.  The guys are ready to play, and I appreciate that.  It was great finding out about Ian and his situation.  His father is doing well, doing better, and this team is very galvanized and surrounded by a guy like Ian, and we're excited about having a chance to play this week.

Q.  With the national news in Charlottesville with the missing girl, the missing student, as a parent how does that story kind of resonate with you?
MIKE LONDON:¬† Well, with any parent, when you're faced with news about your child that's missing or whatever the challenges are, your heart goes out for them.¬† Your thoughts and prayers go out for them.¬† For the Graham family, our players knew about it and we wanted to at least acknowledge it by just in some small way, letting the family know we were thinking about them with things on their wrists, guys put her initials on the tape on their hands and legs and whatever.¬† But it's always‑‑ as any parent, you're concerned about things that happen to your children, and I can tell you that the community here in Charlottesville and local police and everyone is vigilant and still looking for answers and looking for Hannah.
It's something that brings a reality to this whole thing.  We talk about football games, but it brings back to light perspectives about what's really important.

Q.¬† I notice there's an "or" between Michael Mooney and Sadiq Olanrewaju at left tackle.¬† Is that sort of more a reflection of just kind of gauging Sadiq's health on a week‑by‑week basis or is it an open competition?¬† What's the story there at left tackle?
MIKE LONDON:  No, I would say it's the latter.  It's still an open competition.  Mike Mooney has started the first couple games and Sadiq started one particular game.  He was a little rusty, and now Sadiq as the season has gone on and as he's gotten acclimated to playing and the physicality of having to block and all those things, he wasn't doing that as he was getting better.  But now he's done it and he's been in practices, he's gone full speed, he's hit bodies, sleds and anything else you can imagine.  So the competition at that position is exactly what it is.  We played nine offensive linemen this past Saturday, and our offensive line is basically an offensive line with guys that are interchangeable, and that's kind of our MO right now.  But that "or" definitely represents the guy that practices the best will be the starter on Saturday, but the other guy will probably play, as well.

Q.  Going off of what you had addressed in the beginning about looking outside of football and knowing what's really important and the bigger things in life, how have you as a coach kind of humbled yourself in this whole situation of everything in the NFL with the missing girl, with Hannah, with everything that's been going on, how do you humble yourself and be a better leader moving forward with your team knowing that there's been a lot of examples of the bigger things in life?
MIKE LONDON:¬† Well, I mean, that's a great question, and it's one of the things that although these guys are blessed with a tremendous amount of opportunities, being healthy, getting a great education here at the University of Virginia, that things outside of football, the significant things outside of football, your loved ones, people that supported you the whole time while you were growing up, they should be‑‑ you should let them know how you feel about them.¬† Faith, family, football, those are priorities.
To us it's being a great teammate, being a great son, a student, and a productive member in the community, they're essential, because on the football field everybody can see what you're doing, but it's the things that you do off the field that eventually develop your character.  If you're strong in character in that regards and acknowledge people, we always say it's better to be humble voluntarily than involuntarily.  That's kind of the mantra.  It's a great game we play, but we all are, we'll be husbands, fathers and employees and players much longer than we'll be football players.

Q.  And then back on the field with your team, what are some of the areas that you've seen?  Obviously you've found a way to win but also have a couple losses heading into the game against Kent State.  What are you seeing as far as problem areas that you've addressed heading into this game against Kent State?
MIKE LONDON:  Well, the biggest thing, it's great that Ian got the recognition that he got, but when you get down in the red zone, we were five for five down there, but it was for field goals.  Obviously you want to score touchdowns.  You want to get points from that standpoint.
You know, and then the other thing is at times there's been maybe a couple lapses defensively.  Played really, really good, played tough, and there's about four or five places with missed assignments that allowed for explosive plays.  In the BYU game I think there was five plays that accounted for over 150 yards, and if you can minimize those types of things, then you can be pretty good.  I'd say just keep on working on the red zone as far as scoring touchdowns and not have any lapses particularly defensively when you're playing well because when you're playing against a good team, they make you pay for that.

Q.  You mentioned Ian's dad.  Has he been able to leave Utah?
MIKE LONDON:  As of yesterday, no, and I know they're just waiting to see that he's safe and healthy enough to do that, to leave.  I'll touch base with Ian here again probably in a couple hours, but again, I just wanted to say that the leadership at BYU, from the athletic director to Coach Mendenhall to the paramedics, the hospital, the police, I mean, they were just outstanding.  They went above and beyond, and for that I know Ian and Virginia football are grateful.

Q.  And then has Greyson been able to practice this week?
MIKE LONDON:¬† Tuesdays are first days of practice, and Wednesday, he was out here today, took some limited reps.¬† It'll be‑‑ the ACC's requirement of turning in the probability of players is tomorrow, and I would say that although he looked okay, if he's not 100 percent, he's not going to play, but we feel really confident about Matt Johns being the guy, even in a backup real or a situation where David Watford can go in the game, as well.¬† Again, it's tentative, and after tomorrow's practice we'll release his status for the game.¬† But we feel good about whoever the quarterback is going to be to be able to go in and lead the team.

Q.¬† One statistic that has not favored Virginia in recent years is non‑offensive touchdowns.¬† Your opposition has had obviously a lot more than you have.¬† How do you account for that, and how frustrating is it?
MIKE LONDON:  Well, the biggest thing is what's happening right now this year.  You know, as you just characterized, those are things, kickoff returns, punt returns for touchdowns and different things like that, interceptions for touchdowns, obviously you just keep on working on minimizing those types of things.  The way I look at this team this year, there are a lot of statistics that are exactly in our favor and things that we've vastly improved upon.
You take the good with the ones that you have to work on and minimize.  You bring it to the players' attention, and you just go out there with the mindset of executing what's being called and asked for.  Although that's a statistic that you brought up, the one that we're most concerned with is getting a W at the end of the game.

Q.  Well, I guess what I meant by frustrating, I don't imagine you work any less than any other teams on some of these things.
MIKE LONDON:  We put a lot of emphasis on it, and again, sometimes you can't control the way the ball bounces or is tipped in the air.  We've just got to concentrate on the things we can control, being in the right gaps, being in the right lanes, those types of things that are physical and mental, and if you do those things, then the things that you're talking about will decrease and we can concentrate on doing the things that will allow us to have a chance to win football games.

Q.  Any further update on Tre Nicholson?  Any chance he can get in Saturday to kind of get him going a little bit as you head into ACC play next week?
MIKE LONDON:  Yeah, Tre practiced yesterday and he practiced today.  He'll meet with trainers later on to see where he can, how he feels.  Again, this is one of those situations that Tre has to feel completely comfortable and feel like he can go in and contribute to this team, and if he can do that, then we will allow him to play.  But if not, then we're not going to rush any process or anything that would hamper him.
You know, we're getting close to the time that a guy that if he plays now, he's still got several games to play, particularly in the ACC contests that are ahead, but again, it's about what's in the best interests of Tre right now.  He's practicing and giving us feedback after practice and the next day after to see how he feels.  So we'll know better.  Again, his status will probably be reflected Thursday probably after practice, or at least Friday morning, when he's had a full week of practice.  So we'll see.

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