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November 5, 2014

Mike London

MIKE LONDON: Good afternoon. We've been practicing well.  Guys have focused their attention on obviously a very, very good football team in Florida State, No.2 in the country, Heisman Trophy winner with Jameis Winston at quarterback.  Very athletic, very fast team.
So the challenge for us will be take care of ourselves, do what we need to do to improve our play over the last couple weeks, and then go down there and play in an environment which I'm sure will be an electric environment.  Nonetheless, one that we're expected to execute and perform.
I'll take any questions.

Q.  Just to go a little further on Florida State, obviously, 8‑0 start to their season, returning National Champions.  What can you say that you've been able to see on film for them that you've been able to see some weaknesses or some areas that you feel Virginia can be effective?  Is there anything that you really keyed in on when you're watching that film?
MIKE LONDON:  Well, they're a very complete team.  That's why they are where they are right now.  There's a lot of athleticism that you see on the field, and not knowing what the desired techniques are, you see them running and running by making plays, and they very well could be running out of mistakes and making plays because of that‑‑ because of the speed that they have.
It's just‑‑ you look at different games.  You look at the way different teams have approached them.  You have to take a package and make sure that you understand you've got to protect the quarterback because they're very good up front.  And if you're going to throw the ball, you need to have some sort of schemes to allow your receivers to get the ball because their corners are probably two NFL type corners playing right now.
So it's a team that you have to run a little bit, play action pass, throw, but there's not been one particular thing that you can say that it's a glaring error.  They've been able to have different players rally at different moments.  Particularly the quarterback has done a great job rallying his team.  They've been behind, but he's done a great job bringing their team back from a deficit.  It's a good football team.  Our game plan and our attack will just have to be geared towards the things we can do and work it that way.

Q.  When you look at your quarterbacks and what Johns and Lambert have done this season, as you move forward, what have you been able to take away from them, and how do you look at this game going forward and the kind of leadership that you're seeing right now, especially in a game like this?
MIKE LONDON:  Well, I've seen very good leadership from Matt and Greyson, and, again, I always talk about it with the older guys, Henry Coley and Romero and Harris.  But they've been playing‑‑ the course of the season has gone kind of an ebb and flow for them.  They've produced.  They've been efficient.  When we started out the season, had guys all in tune to what's going on.  It's important that your quarterback play‑‑ the big number that we're always looking for is the efficiency, the completions.  We look at the other side of the coin there, Jameis Winston is, I believe, third in FBS football with a completion percentage rate.
So if you can get the ball to the guys and let the guys‑‑ your guys do whatever they need to do with it, the talented guys, it gives you a chance, and we just need to make sure that our accuracy and our completions are up to allow us to have some chances.  But both guys have been working on that.  Receivers, everyone that touches the ball, understands the importance that a drop could cost a possession.  A ball overthrown could cost other possessions.  So focusing on the things that are fundamentally sound and are successful are things that we've been practicing on this week.

Q.  Mike, I know things haven't gone the way that you wanted these last couple, three weeks.  What's been the most disappointing aspect for you in looking back at those games?
MIKE LONDON:  There's different elements that you can look at, but as I've said early on at the beginning of the season and games into it, we were in the plus category of turnovers, and that's such a critical element of any success is being in the plus category and not giving the ball up as much.
The most disappointing part of it in the latter few games here, we're in the minus category.  You can't win football games.  You can't flip the field.  You can't have field positions or battles if you're turning the ball over and allowing the team to score on a short field.  Those are things very cognizant about.  The ball security issues with our quarterbacks, with our receivers, when we run with passes, everyone.
That's probably the biggest thing right now, but, again, you have a chance to practice.  You have a chance to perform and compete once again, and it's going to be on a national stage, and we're expected to improve.  We're expected to do things that can allow us to be competitive in games, and that's been the focus this week.

Q.  How do you keep the guys up?  You obviously hit a little bump here.  How do you keep their confidence up considering the stretch you have here to close the season?
MIKE LONDON:  It's an older group of guys that I always allude to, Kevin Parks and just go on and on.  The whole mentality of that group is upbeat and optimistic.  They're guys that have had experiences, have had success while they're here, or they've been here playing at Virginia.
Collectively, the attitude is‑‑ again, there's still goals that they set for themselves as a team that are still very attainable and achievable.  The first step of that is finishing up this week's practice and preparation and going down and playing in a hostile environment.  Again, we're talking about the No.2 team in the country, the national champs until otherwise proven differently, and a Heisman Trophy candidate.
This is what competition does for you.  It either allows you or makes you rise to the challenge.  This group of guys, particularly the seniors, are looking forward to rising to the challenge presented to them.

Q.  Mike, you're talking about Greyson and his efficiency and accuracy and whatever.  He's been intercepted eight times.  Obviously, one of those passes the other day was a deflection.  Do you think he needs to pay more attention to keeping away from the interceptions, or is it just, like you had the other day, some bad luck in there?
MIKE LONDON:  No.  Everyone is responsible for the ball, whether you're throwing it or catching it.  The quarterback throws the ball on time, throws it to the spot that he's supposed to, out in front of the receiver.  The receiver's running the right depth of the route because of timing and because of coverages that are being played.  So there's a little bit of everything that goes into a quarterback throwing the ball to a receiver.  You need the protection.  You need to not feel like you're being harassed.
That's the thing, again, we've been working on and Greyson continues to keep working on, and any quarterback just has to be‑‑ you know, read the rush, read the pocket, be able to step up, be able to move outside, be able to scramble if necessary.  But we'll continue to keep working on those elements by creating those elements in practice because it's on realtime in games.  You have to be ready to perform like that, and Greyson and Matt have been‑‑ we've been doing things like that thus far to improve their accuracy but also to understand it's important to put the ball in a place where there's a catch and run afterwards, and that's what we're doing. 

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