On Wednesday, Mike London took part in the ACC teleconference. The Virginia head coach talked about the Cavaliers' upcoming opponent, Penn State.
Mike London photo courtesy of VirginiaSports.com
LONDON: Our team is excited about the opportunity to play on national TV and represent the ACC, to play against a very good Penn State team. We're excited about the challenge. We'll be ready.
Q. Mike, are you concerned at all about trying to keep your team focused with such a national story that Penn State has become, having them rolling into town?
LONDON: No, not at all. We understand things that happened, the news that was covered. We understand the tradition of Penn State. We understand the prestige of Penn State.
In the end it's a football game we have to be concerned about. So our focus is on playing our second home game against an out-of-conference opponent, a team that played in a bowl game last year.
Q. Have you done anything or plan to do anything in or around the stadium differently, I don't know whether it's with security or anything else like that, to make sure everything stays in check?
LONDON: That's a question you probably have to ask our game management and operators. As far as I'm concerned, what we do and how we do it, our timelines, everything is going to be consistent as it was last week.
That's probably a question for maybe somebody else in the department.
Q. Do you plan on doing anything different to help the team prepare for a Penn State team looking to rebound from that tough loss?
LONDON: Not necessarily anything different. I think it's always been said that the biggest improvement that you make is from Game 1 to Game 2.
We understand they have a style of defense and style of offense that they play.
But our concern is correcting the mistakes we made, making our offense and defense more efficient to be able to compete against them on the field.
The only change will be just making sure we limit those things that can cause you to lose or cause breakdowns. They have a pro-style attack in their offense. They have a defense that's very front four, front seven that are very good. Our concern is how to game plan in those elements to be prepared to play a good game on Saturday.
Q. Were there any younger players who surprised you with their performance against Richmond?
LONDON: There's nine of them that played the first time. You look at a couple things, a couple plays here and there, some guys on special teams.
We had some young rushers in Eli Harold and Michael Moore. I think eventually they're going to end up being good.
It was the first college game, the jitters, everything like that that goes with it.
Not one specifically to call out. I would say there are a handful of them that competed and had fun doing it.
Q. Mike, is Drequen Hoskey ahead of where you might have expected him to be in his third year in the program, given where he started?
LONDON: I think that his game has improved because of all the other elements that happen: maturity, the weight room, opportunity, having been in games before. So I think with all those developments, things that have occurred for him, he's become a better player, as I would expect any other player that has been in the program and sat and watched, then had a chance to play a couple games, special teams. Now he's a starter.
He is at that point where now we expect him to play well because he understands the defense, understands the expectations of them. Like I said, that came with the weight room, the maturity level, his experience and knowledge.
Q. You talked about the 9 or 10 true freshmen who played. Outside of Moore and Harold, which ones played in scrimmage-type situations, or were all the rest special teams?
LONDON: (Maurice) Canady played on special teams. I think Canaan Severin, (Adrian) Gamble, and I know the other guys were probably guys that played on special teams. I think there's about four or five that played, including ￼Michael and Eli. Right off the top of my head, I don't have the answer to that, but I could get it for you later on.
Q. Mike, back during the football kickoff, the transfers were just ready to start happening at Penn State. At that point, didn't have any idea what the roster would look like. Now that all that has transpired, what do you make of what they have with this year's team?
LONDON: Well, everybody's made mention of the guys that left.
That's a BCS program that's a very good program. The guys that stayed, their linebacker Hodges, exceptional player, all-conference player. Even though they lost their runningback, Belton, the guy back there playing now is a very good athlete. The quarterback is good. As I said before, their front seven, I believe it's intact. They just got a linebacker this last year who is the heart and soul of the team. So there's a lot of players, a lot of athleticism and talent that they have.
No one wants to lose players like that. But I think in college football, when one guy goes down, the next guy has to step up. I think Coach O'Brien and his staff have done a good job of putting the pieces together that are going to help them win.
I see a very talented team out there, very skilled, particularly the corners and the receivers. Their tight ends are big and athletic. Not saying about the players that they lost, but it appears the players they do have are players that are committed to playing and doing well.
Q. I wanted to ask you about the passing game. Obviously Mike (Rocco) had a great game. I was specifically looking at your receivers. You had a big hole to fill. You had guys with some experience. How did they step up and how did your receiving core as a whole look for you?
LONDON: The strategy coming from Richmond was to pack the box and limit the run. If that happens, you're going to have to rely on throwing the crossing routes, the routes that can get your guys open.
Timmy (Smith) did a good job. Darius (Jennings) did. Dominique Terrell. Then a host of others. We throw to our tight ends and some other guys came in. Earl Scott came in. There's other guys that have kind of picked up the slack for a Kris Burd or Matt Snyder who had a lot of catches for us.
I think we have more guys to go in of the game to catch passes even out of our backfield than we had to rely on Kris Burd type of guys. I think we have more options this particular year.