Virginia coach Mike London spoke to the media Tuesday in advance of Saturday's game at USC, touching on such topics as the Trojans' overall team speed and struggles in the secondary as well as his own team's successes running the ball.
Read what he said in a Q&A:
I know you're not going to divulge any game plans or anything like that, but it was a wild game in Hawaii, what did you see from Southern Cal that impressed you and what do you think of their team in general?
Well, obviously they have great, great skilled players. You look at a program that has star quality players. I mean, high school All-Americans, first, second, third-team. I know there's a lot of talk about who is playing and whom they have lost, but the quality of the talent that they have is indicative of the fact they are one of the top programs that have players in the NFL. I think it's over 450. It's a program that has won 11 national championships. When you look at the game, you see athleticism - from everybody. Even the water boy is athletic and fast.
So we have to be able, as I said before, we have to play our best game and every one of us, coaches, players, have to make sure that we contribute to an opportunity to be in position to help ourselves.
So that will be the challenge. There are a lot of things going on we cannot get caught up – playing in the Coliseum and what's going on in the news right now, all those other things, it's a football game that has to be played between the lines there. So that's the focus for this week's preparation and that's the focus we have going into the game.
You've talked about USC speed, size, athleticism...Is it helpful in a matchup like this to have linebackers that are faster to be competitive?
It helps being fast because they have some tremendous players from the running back, (Marc) Tyler, I believe, and then (Ronald) Johnson, the wide receiver, who is a phenomenal athlete to the quarterback (Matt) Barkley, everything is as advertised. We'll have to play fast in all aspects. If you make a mistake you'll have to play fast to try to correct the mistake, but they have speed. So we'll have to limit as many mental errors and alignment errors that sometimes happen in the game like that because we get caught up where you are and your surroundings and who you're playing with instead of just playing the game
So that's what I said on your focus and attention has to be on the things we can do well and each player and coach can contribute as far as giving us a chance.
Do you think it will be tougher to (run the ball) against USC than Richmond?
I do know this - you'll have to take some time off the clock against Southern Cal. USC is a team that plays fast and that tries to capitalize on the things that you don't do. So we need to make sure that we can keep the clock running, with the running game, short passes that are caught, keep the clock moving, keep the chains moving.
Just play the game. Play the way we know we can play. And let all the other things outside of external things, let those things develop. But the only thing we can control is what we're doing, what we do and then we'll see.
Specifically in regard to USC's secondary, fairly young and inexperienced group that had a rough go of it on Thursday. What have you seen on the tape from them so far?
That they're young and they're fast. There are four new guys there. A true freshman, I think the freshman is starting -- playing as USC’s first freshman starter since 1960 or something like that. And if they're playing, then they're good.
And so like any freshman, you want opportunities to play and playing is the opportunity that you'll get. Where you gain your experience. They're tall and athletic and they can run. And so again we'll have our work cut out for us in terms of how we attack the schemes that they present to us.
But like I said at the beginning, overall, their athleticism and size and speed is very, very respectable and obviously so because of where they are and where they've been.
Do you know Lane Kiffin personally and what are your impressions of him as a head coach?
No, I don't know Coach Kiffin personally. I know people who know him or have been associated with him. I know he's a very good coach, very accomplished. He’s been a lot of good places, been an NFL coach, his dad is a very well respected, longtime NFL defensive coach. I know his staff that's assembled is a very good staff.
There’s some guys on our staff, Bill Lazor knows a little bit of him and knows him and also Coach Kiffin's father. But this is like any other game. Sometimes we get to know each other because we're in the same profession and you'll talk to each other after the game and maybe at next year's convention you'll also get a chance to talk to each other. We're looking forward to getting out there to California and playing a great USC team.