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October 10, 2012

Mike London

COACH LONDON:  Good afternoon.  Yes, a game against our cross‑state rival, cross‑boarder rival.  A lot of young men on our team are from the Maryland area.  We've recruited, since they're so close in proximity, we've recruited against them, and it makes for more of an exciting opportunity for these kids that are from that area and having a chance to play.
So we're excited about preparing for a Maryland team that's really been playing well, that's a really good defense.  Coach has them playing well and playing hard.  But it's Virginia's homecoming, and we're looking forward to playing and putting a four‑quarter game together.

Q.  Watching the game Saturday was a very different game in the second half.  Was it something they did differently or something you guys failed to do that changed it that dramatically?
COACH LONDON:  I think it might have been a little bit of that and some other combination.  One of the things coming out of that game, which is painfully evident to us, is our need to play more people.  Our need to play particularly up front in the front side defensively.
You play with that aggressiveness and enthusiasm and you spend all that, then you've got all these young guys that are still looking to get extended reps in the game.  Then you come out in the third and fourth quarter, and when you have to turn the gas on, it's not particularly there.  So you go back and look at opportunities like a Michael Moore or David Dean, guys we've committed Michael Moore to playing.  David Dean doesn't have a red shirt year anymore.  Chris Brathwaite has selected reps in the game, Eli Harold.
So I've committed this part of the season, this second half of the season to get guys game experience.  Because the only way young players don't get game experience is playing them in the games and not trying to hang on with more experienced players that are in there because, eventually, they get worn out here a little bit.  So we've addressed that.  Some other technique things we've talked about, and hopefully the opportunity where we've exported some of these young players to get out and provide some energy.

Q.  Can you evaluate the job Phillip Sims did at quarterback.  Were you happy with his decisions?
COACH LONDON:  First college start in his career.  A lot has been said about he was a great player out of high school and in Alabama and things like that, starting his first game.  There were some positives and some things that Phillip has to work on.  Almost throwing for 300 yards, that's a positive, distributing the ball, but having two turnovers, that's a negative, particularly when we're not getting turnovers.  We can't afford to give turnovers.
So I know there are some throws that he wished he would have had back.  I found out after the game he made a comment that it was his fault that we lost the game.  You admire a guy that wants to take everything on his shoulders, but at the same time there are other people that contributed to not executing and not doing what we needed to do.
So going into Game 2 here, second time we start with the plan more crafted towards what he can do, his abilities, and we expect a positive outcome in response.  Phillip expects that also.

Q.  Can you give your thoughts on the play of receiver Darius Jennings and the role he's developed in this UVA offense as only a sophomore?
COACH LONDON:  Yeah, I tell you, with Tim Smith kind of in and out with his injuries, Darius as a true sophomore as basically become‑‑ he's been playing extensive ly ‑‑  has become kind of the guy.  Even with all that being said, having played last year and having played this year, there is some experience that he has, but there are still some things that obviously players that the longer they play, the more experience they get, the more understanding of the game they have.
But Darius has proven that he's got some big playability going from last year and a couple of catches this year.  Hoping that he really blossoms and takes that role that we're missing right now with Timmy being out.  Take the role of being the leader in the huddle as well as the guy that can be a go‑to guy on the field.
He's taking pride in accepting that.  But it takes those opportunities in games to be involved in doing that.  But Darius is an outstanding young man that is working hard to be a team leader and be vocal.  Sometimes those sophomores don't want to say anything.  They're looking around.  But we need guys that have gone in games and done things and contributed and produced to have the feeling that there is a stake in what they say and what they do, And Darius is one of them.

Q.  On the subject of younger players and veteran players how are you‑‑ what kind of break down do you have on special teams?  It appears on your kick returns, punt returns and kickoff returns that you're not getting a lot of blocking.  Is that a lot of younger players?  At some point do you look to put more veterans out there?
COACH LONDON:  I think that where we're now you look and evaluate what you're doing on offense, defense, how you're doing, and particularly who is doing it.  One of the commitments when you play young players is obviously to get them three or four phases of your special teams unit.  That's kind of how our now starting safeties, Anthony Harris and Brandon Phelps, how they came in and played.  If you look at some of their guys now, you see them in Kwontie Moore, Demeitre Brim.
But as I said, you look now and say, listen, we have to make sure we have to have success in special teams area, particularly since it's one play football.  The other day we tried to address the who, to put people in there that have gone in games, played in games and could give us an opportunity to return the ball or set up a block because of game experience.  So it's a mixture of some young guys, but at the same time, having to put personnel out on the field that's gone in games and done things in games.
So as you look at it and self‑evaluate what you do, you have to make those type of corrections and those type of is substitutions as far as personnel‑wise to bolster what started out, particularly in the kickoff return, to be a good unit for us.

Q.  When you look at Maryland on film this year and what is the biggest area of improvement you've seen compared to when you played them last year in College Park?  To that end, what do you think of the job that Randy's done there from year one to year two?
COACH LONDON:  You look at the film, and obviously they're playing a lot of young players too.  But you see schematically, offensively in terms of spreading the ball out, they've utilized a dynamic player like Stefon Diggs.  Their quarterback is very efficient, even though he's a young player.  Brian Stewart defensively bringing the system from the Cowboys, changed up what they do, who they move around and the emphasis that they have on their linebacker play has been very improved.
They're playing with a level of confidence.  That's important when you have a young team that's playing with a level of confidence and you can see that.  It's very evident on film.  You hope for longevity in this profession, but you know that you evaluate it from year to year, and as things go on, and you look at Coach Edsall's case right now, there is an improvement, and you see his team playing with that high level and that energy.  So I think that's probably the biggest thing that you notice.

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