Mike London's lone media availability this week was on Wednesday for the ACC Coaches Teleconference because of UVa's bye week.
Mike London photo courtesy of VirginiaSports.com
What did the UVa head coach discuss?
LONDON: A bye week for us. An opportunity to get some guys rested and healed and also an opportunity for us to work on ourselves and spend time reiterating fundamentals and coaching points and things like that. We have practice today, tomorrow and Friday, and have an opportunity to try to better our teams in all aspects.
Q. I don't think many people were expecting you guys to struggle like this this year. Can you explain what's gone wrong?
LONDON: You always go into a season with high hopes and expectations. It's evident that every year there is a new team and there are new play makers that have to arise and step up and make things happen for you. We talked about the close games last year. That we
were able to pull out some close games on last-second wins on four occasions. This year three of the losses with 7 points or less and coming in the last couple of minutes and just have not been able to execute well enough to pull those games out and win.
It is frustrating, but at the same time we have to be mindful of the fact that with this open week our efforts and our energies have to be directed towards making good decisions, playing fundamental football and putting ourselves in position to help this team win. If that means schemes or systems or who we're asking to do what, then that's got to be required and will be required.
All we can do now is with the four games left on our schedule is to play those games as well as we can. To have the coaches, including myself, to put these guys in the best position best plan to be executed to give us a chance to win.
That is the mindset right now that we've been working on.
Q. Considering how successful you were last year, do you feel you went backwards this season or do you still feel like it's headed in the right direction?
LONDON: Well, I know it's headed in the right direction in terms of the process of when you get to a place. And this is the second recruiting class we have playing for us right now, currently recruiting the third recruiting class, the process of the expectations off the field of the players the process of look at the record. We are where we are as far as the record is concerned. I look at how this thing is being built and the expectations. There is still young, good, fresh talent that is here that has a chance, and as we develop them, have a chance to be good.
You can look at the glass as half empty. I look at it as half full. We just need to continue to pour into it and filling it. That's good with players and guys that are capable of handling the school work here. Guys that love winning and guys that give great effort.
I would say that we're continuing the process of building this program to where we want it and to where it remains and will be attractive to young student-athletes out there.
Q. Looking at the numbers for your team, it looks like you've made some defensive progress in the last two weeks, again from watching what I saw of the game Saturday -- I'm sorry I didn't see it all -- but it looked like you had some special team problems that probably cost you that game. Can you address those two areas? Is the defensive improvement real, and is special teams the area you really have to work on?
LONDON: As you look, I guess, when you're not doing well, all aspects of what you're doing come under scrutiny, heavy scrutiny. It is true that I think defensively we are all playing better, they are playing with more energy and the ability to try to make plays. Again, a positive of that coming out of that game, they were 1 for 15 on third downs. That's pretty good. A little bit over a hundred yards rushing, and a little bit over a hundred yards passing.
What can be measured can be improved. Obviously, we want to keep the points down. In the last couple of games, that's been the case. It makes things worse when you turn the ball over in the red zone, and you put teams in scoring opportunities.
To the second part of your question, the special teams part of it, as always, it's a third of the game, and it's always something that, because it's a one-play football opportunity, that can put you in a bad situation. So two games in a row, first game against Maryland, the kickoff return first play, in this game, a punt return, then in the second play a score.
We've been trying to come back from a deficit. Those are areas of concern, but it's an area with an open week that gives us an opportunity to adjust, adapt, make personnel changes, schematically or whatever it is, to make sure that we put these guys again, as I said before, in positions to make plays or in position to be productive. That's what this week, this open week is dedicated to.
Q. Perry Jones hit a pretty significant milestone. He's now one of the few backs in ACC history with a thousand yards rushing, a thousand yards receiving. That's pretty good for a guy that's sharing time with Kevin Parks. I just wondered if you can talk about what he's giving you and what kind of player he is.
LONDON: Perry is a two-time elected captain by his teammates. He is a selfless person. He could be a guy concerned about stats and give me the ball, but he's more interested in collectively what the running backs do and collectively what the team does. He's a leader by example.
He's a young man that just recently got engaged to be married and has a lot of things going on in his life. But he's also maintained the ability to be a focused individual on the football field. So Perry is an outstanding young man. It doesn't surprise me of the things or accomplishments that have come his way.
In his highlight tape in high school, he did everything. He kicked off, returned kicks, he'd punt, he did everything. He was a linebacker, a safety, running back, all of those things. He's an outstanding individual. So it's a great milestone to be recognized by a young man. That's a great young man.