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October 15, 2014

Mike London

MIKE LONDON:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Obviously a big road test for us, an opportunity to play, again, one of our Coastal Conference opponents.  Duke is a very good football team, coached well by Coach Cutcliffe and his staff.  They have an outstanding offense, and their quarterback in Anthony Boone and Jamison Crowder, the skill position guys there are something that have presented challenges for every team that they've played, and they have a good defense.
It'll be a game that's important for us to hang on to the football.  They, like us, cause a lot of turnovers, but they don't give the ball up that much, and again, that's one of the staples of how Duke has played over the last couple years.
The guys are looking forward to getting on the road and playing down in Durham.

Q.  I'm curious what you kind of remember about EJ Scott as a player, and what do you see now?  Now that he's at Wake Forest playing so well, what do you see from him?
MIKE LONDON:  Well, you do know we're playing Duke this week, right?  EJ was a player that was here, and now I know he's at Wake Forest.  I haven't been keeping contact with Wake Forest.  I've been keeping contact with our team and the teams that we're about to play.  I wish him well, whatever he's doing, but my focus is on University of Virginia and Duke football.

Q.  At this point in the season, are you happy with your team the way your guys are playing, or is there stuff that you'd like to see improve?
MIKE LONDON:  You know, there's always room for improvement.  There's always things that you look for when you're looking at your team, you're looking at the various aspects, three phases, offense, defensively and special teams wise where you have to improve.  Anything that's measured can be improved, and obviously there's some things that we continue to keep working on.
However, with that being said, I am pleased with the amount of effort and the competitiveness with which we played in the six games thus far, particularly against, early on, a pretty tough schedule at the beginning.
But you have to‑‑ you are what you are, and you are what your record is.  We need to move forward and have a better second half in order for us to continue to improve.  You're always‑‑ I'm pleased, but at the same time there's work yet to be done and there's improvement that needs to be done in order for this team to move forward.

Q.  Are you in control of the Duke running game?  Seems like a couple teams previously that have played Duke had a hard time stopping the run.  What do you have to do to stop them?
MIKE LONDON:  You know, they're very talented.  It's a talented football team with a veteran quarterback.  I believe Boone is 15‑1, 15‑2 as a starter.  There's components to their offense that require a savvy quarterback.  Their offense is something that they've been running the last couple years, and they've got the right type of personnel in the position to make things happen for them.  They've got talented running backs, and when you start to crowd up and take away the run, then with Crowder and other receivers, they throw the ball.  It's almost assignment oriented, but it's about gap‑sound principle, as well, and as I said, Coach Cutcliffe, the offensive coordinator Montgomery, they do a good job of challenging your gap integrity, so we'll have to do even a better job of being where we're supposed to be.

Q.  How did Greyson Lambert look in practice yesterday, and how close is he to 100 percent?
MIKE LONDON:  Greyson looked pretty good in practice yesterday.  It's always the day after that you want to look and see how guys feel.  He was a little sore.  We practiced again today.  He liked nice today, pretty good today moving around.  We'll ask how he feels tomorrow, being Thursday, and still having a few more days to prepare.  But thus far he's looked good, and again, we'll get how he feels based on treatment, based on just moving around a little bit more than he has in the past after practice and the next day if there's any issues with that.  But right now I'd say he's looking pretty good.

Q.  Is your decision on a starter going to remain a game‑time decision, or do you anticipate picking a guy before then?
MIKE LONDON:  You know, with two practices basically left, a Thursday and then a Friday kind of quick practice, we'll see.  It may be sooner than later, but again, as I said, if he's moving around well, if he's communicating with us and the doctors and the trainers about how he feels, and he knows about we need his absolute 100 percent honesty on it, and he's been that thus far.  So we'll see how, like I said, in the next day or two how that feels.  It may be up to game day, or it may be after, how he feels tomorrow.
Right now both he and Matt have been practicing, getting all the reps, and they were doing that when we first started doing that, as well.  So we feel pretty good about Matt or Greyson being behind the center.

Q.  Is there any advantage to letting a guy know, letting the guys know on Thursday or Friday as opposed to Saturday?
MIKE LONDON:  I'm quite sure there's advantages in everybody's situations that might have two quarterbacks playing.  It's all predicated upon the specifics of each team.  For us they've been practicing like that, guys both getting the reps with the ones and the twos knowing that either one of them can play.  The main focus is the game plan, and both of them can execute we believe this game plan that's being put together.
Like I said, we're not in a rush to do it.  We'll do what's best for the team.  We'll do it also so they feel comfortable when we do select a starter.  But right now being Wednesday and yet to evaluate Greyson post‑Wednesday practice, we're still in the mode of getting both of them ready, but the game plan still be intact.

Q.  Last year's game had a pretty dramatic turnaround.  You guys scored the first 22 points, they scored the last 35, I think.  But the point is from that point on, it was like nothing went right for you guys the rest of the season.  Everything went right for them the rest of the season.  They won the division, you guys lost out.  Is that just happenstance, or is there a cumulative effect for something like that?
MIKE LONDON:  Well, you know, what I've talked about to the team was last year's game was last year's game.  This team that we have this year is a different team with a different mindset with different leadership.  What happens on the field, some things, a lot of things you can control, sometimes you can't control other things.  But our focus has been truly on a one game at a time approach for us, for this year's team.  There's goals that these guys have set for themselves, and for six games they've played indicative of how we want these guys to play and how they want to play themselves.
We look at this game as a chance, again, to play a Coastal Division team, a chance to be 3‑0 in our division, and a chance to improve our play since we've had the open week.
That's truly what our focus is on is the here and now and not what happened last year.  And that's how we're operating.

Q.  I just wonder when you look at them on film, new offensive coordinator, they're running the ball more.  Do they look different on offense to you than the team you've seen the last couple years?
MIKE LONDON:  They look like they know what they're doing.  They look like they have a plan, a plan of attack.  As I said, they're one of the fewest penalized teams in the conference, in the country.  They're efficient at what they do.  They try to get the ball in the hands of Crowder, who's an All‑American.  They have a veteran quarterback that can direct the offense.  They look like a team that has won football games in the past and has won football games to this point.
The challenge for us is to bring our best football game, and as everyone has alluded to, try to disrupt some of those running lanes but being cognizant of the fact that they've got a couple good receivers, and particularly an All‑American in Crowder.

Q.  I know you talked about your quarterbacks a little bit and still figuring out when that decision is going to be made based on how Lambert is doing, but if you have to trust it in the hands of Johns, what can you say about what you've learned from him, how you've taken away from him, how he's led the team when he's had to?
MIKE LONDON:  Well, we've had a tremendous effort from Matt Johns and the way he's prepared.  He's another guy that's kind of a football junkie, and I don't know if that's a direct effect with he and Greyson being best friends and always watching film together.  But both of them benefit each other.
But Matt has taken the opportunities that he's been presented, and he's been productive, and it's been very reasonable for him to be in the mix or talking about his opportunities to play in college football games for us this year, and even in the conversation as we go into the Duke game.
So our players believe in him.  It's a good thing to have two guys that our players believe in because there's documented and demonstrated performance behind each of them, and whichever direction we go, whether Greyson is healthy, 100 percent ready to go, or if he's not, then both of them are very supportive of the other person, and that's the other critical component of quarterback play, particularly when there's a one and there's a two, is that both of them want each other to do well because they want the team to do well.

Q.  When you look at the team, no matter who's out there throwing the ball, how have you seen the receivers respond?  I know you said that they both have earned some respect from the team itself, but receivers obviously have to be set up for different guys with different talents.  How have you seen your wide receivers respond to the situation of having either of them out there?
MIKE LONDON:  Yeah, you know, it's a cause and effect, and actually the receivers being older for us this year has led to them running better routes, crisper routes, for them reading coverages pre‑snap.  Their movements post‑snap, what the safeties and the DBs are doing.  The play of the receivers really has improved the play of the quarterback.  You can say that.  And having those older guys there or guys that have been in games has been significant for us.  Miles Gooch, Darius Jennings, those guys, Cal Dawkins, guys that have played in games, they've gotten better.
And when the surrounding cast can get better for your signal caller, then it makes the team better.  It's been very positive for us to have an improved group of receivers, and then also with the quarterbacks' play that's improved, it's made us a better football team to this point.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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