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November 19, 2014

Mike London

MIKE LONDON:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Just coming off our second bye week, having an opportunity for some guys to kind of get healed, get back in health going down the stretch here.  Very productive practices, and looking forward to playing a Miami team that comes down to Charlottesville for our seniors' last home game.  We're excited about the opportunity that's been presented.  I'll take any questions.

Q.  As far as you had mentioned, senior day with Miami coming into your home and this being the last one in front of your hometown crowd for the seniors, what can you say about this senior class and what it's meant to the progression of Virginia despite some adversity this year?
MIKE LONDON:  Well, I'll tell you, from the beginning of the season, we talked about the leadership and guys that have been here, been through some good moments and through some challenging moments, but they've been guys that have really stood up, been held accountable and kind of represented the type of student athletes that want to be represented here at UVA, guys like Henry Coley and Daquan Romero, Darius Jennings, Miles Gooch, and I could just go on and on.  We're all about trying to progress in what we do, and those guys have been kind of a constant element of handling themselves in every way.  I can't thank them enough, and nothing more than to have them go out on a positive note with their last home game against a very good Miami team on national TV this Saturday night.

Q.  And when you look at that Miami team, Duke Johnson, there's a lot of things that he has excelled at this season and his ability.  Just your take on Duke Johnson and what you're expecting when he comes into your home?
MIKE LONDON:  Yeah, you look at not only the ACC football, you look around the country, I believe Duke is one of the best running backs in the country.  I mean, he's a guy that has steadily improved.  He's gotten bigger, stronger, he can get the hard yards, or he can get out and outrun safeties.  He's a dynamic player and he's a very physical player, a very physical runner, and he makes Miami a very, very potent team when it comes to the rush attack because of the things he can do.  He can create yards for himself by just breaking arm tackles.  I think he's a phenomenal talent.

Q.  This group of players has had some success against Miami, even the game you last very year was competitive.  What kind of carryover effect do you think that might have?
MIKE LONDON:  You know, it's been on the road and it's been at home, this group of guys that are going out, so it's not anything to do with the atmosphere.  We're not concerning ourselves with the projected weather or all those things.  Being an older guy and having had some success against this particular team, whatever the weather conditions were, it just boils down to kind of the mentality of we've done this before, we can do this again, and they've led the team.  As I said, we've improved as a football team, and nothing better than having an opportunity for senior leadership like this since they've been talking about it all year, to come to fruition with a very competitive game.
We're talking about we have to play our best football game, and that's true.  We've got to do things that are going to allow us to win, and when you have older guys that constantly talk about taking care of the ball, pursuit to the football, just different things, the team can rise to the level of its leadership, as I've always said to these guys that are older, have been doing a good job of just providing that type of leadership.

Q.  Unrelated, obviously Miami comes in with a pretty highly regarded tight end.  You've faced a pretty highly regarded tight end in O'Leary at Florida State.  Didn't really hurt you a whole lot.  Do you have a particular player or players or scheme that's made you successful against opposing tight ends this year?
MIKE LONDON:  You know, when I look just overall defensively, we've improved and played better defensively just from points scored, total defense, and it's attributed to the defensive staff and the guys like, whether it's an outside linebacker like Max Valles or Romero or rushers, Eli coming off the edge, we've done a pretty good job of recognizing other teams' threats, and as you alluded to, their tight end is a really good player.  Duke Johnson is a good player, the quarterback has played well.
I just believe we've done a good job of recognizing the particular threats, and when it comes to whether it's a call on defense or a technique that you're playing against another player, that our guys have done a good job following that.  We'll have to have that this Saturday because we've got to be aware of a lot of players that they have, but particularly I believe they've done a good job of that over the course of the season.

Q.  I hope I can take you back a few weeks to two games you played, Georgia Tech and Florida State.  I was hoping you could compare them a little bit, strengths, weaknesses, that sort of thing?
MIKE LONDON:  Compare Georgia Tech?

Q.  And Florida State, right.
MIKE LONDON:  Well, they're two different styles of football teams.  Coach Johnson has created a style that he's had for a while that is kind of unique to college football.  He's been successful at doing it.
Florida State is a team that obviously you look at from the skill position, just everywhere, you look at a team that over the last few years have had top‑five, top‑ten recruiting classes, and you see a lot of that speed and athleticism you see on the field.
Each school has its niche, so to speak, and they've built their reputation on who they are and their identity, and I'd say Coach Johnson has done a great job of attacking teams with that option style, open‑field type of offense, and then as I said, defensively they've done a good job with the schemes they've played at Florida State.  Very athletic, and they've got so many players you can talk about, but the fact is they've got a quarterback is the thing that drives the engine.  He's done a great job for them.

Q.  In the title game do you feel like Tech would have a chance to take down Florida State?
MIKE LONDON:  I mean, that's why you play the games, whether it's a Friday night football game or Saturday or even on Sundays you see things happen.  The team that executes the best and plays four quarters of football will have an opportunity, and I'm quite sure that if and when that match occurs that it'll be an entertaining one and one that everybody could then make their opinions based on the game's outcome.

Q.  You mentioned a couple minutes ago how you think this is a better football team.  I just wonder, how often do you talk with administrators about that, whether it be Craig Littlepage, Jon Oliver?  How often do you have conversations with them about the direction of the program, and what do you‑‑ these last couple weeks here, what do you think constitutes a successful season for this program now that we've reached sort of the end point here?
MIKE LONDON:  Well, I mean, you can look at things and see from statistically or just the way you play, the style that you play, things that are improving.  Anything that can be measured can be improved.  You look at the progress, you look at their numbers getting better, not only the Ws but how they're playing, points given up, total yardage, and just the production of the players.  You're looking for things also off the field, behaviors that don't bring negativity to the University.  You're looking for the performance in the classroom.
I understand it's a football team we're talking about, but at the same time, you want to see progress from all areas, and what we have to judge from is last season, and there's been production that's been had from that.
We have conversations, and they know that right now the focus of me and for our staff is the focus of playing Miami here at home, the last game for our seniors.  That's the big focus.  Other conversations will be had at the appropriate time, but the focus for us is the Miami Hurricanes.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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