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Junior linebacker Aaron Taliaferro and the Cavaliers are preparing this week to host VMI Saturday at Scott Stadium. Coming off a career day against USC with six tackles, the Gloucester, Va., native recently sat down with to discuss the recent bye week, playing the Trojans and the upcoming clash with the Keydets.

Question: After a close loss at USC, the team had a bye week last week. Was it nice having the time off to regroup, or would you have rather gotten back out there to shake off the tough loss?
Taliaferro: I kind of wanted to go back and play another game, just so we could have another chance at winning. That was a tough loss, and those are the hardest to get over.

Question: Did the coaches take it easy on the team because of the bye week, or did they use the time off as an excuse to work you guys even harder without a game to rest up for?
Taliaferro: We did get an extra day of rest, but other than that, the coaches try to have us practice at the same tempo as a game week so we don’t lose our intensity. Coach London always says teams get worse over bye weeks, and the best way to avoid that is by practicing hard.

Question: Other than trying to maintain that game-week intensity, was there anything specific the coaches emphasized in practice?
Taliaferro: We worked on preparing for VMI, and they had us work on some special teams’ drills, too. I know the offensive worked on formations.

Question: Virginia defensive coordinator, Jim Reid, served as the VMI head coach during the 2006 and 2007 seasons. Has he been able to offer any insight on his former team as the defense prepares for Saturday’s game?
Taliaferro: He said they were scrappy guys, so they’re not a team we should take easily or look down on. He told us about some players he coached and the type of talent they have, so we’re going to be on our toes out there.

Question: It’s still easy to overlook games against a FCS school like VMI with the conference schedule looming, as Virginia Tech found out. How can the team go about preparing this week to prevent such a slipup?
Taliaferro: You just have to practice hard, just like if we were playing against a big ACC school like Florida State. You can’t go by the name of the school and you can’t back down.

Question: On a more personal level, you’ve already started more games this season-against Richmond and USC-than you played in during all of 2009. Do you feel that the defense’s shift from the 3-4 to the 4-3 has played a role in your improvement?
Taliaferro: The 4-3 gives me less responsibility, and I get to fly around out there. It’s unlike the 3-4, where you have certain gaps and certain responsibilities to worry about. Now that I’m a starter though, I have to study more and make sure I’m on top of things for game day.

Question: Last Saturday must have offered a nice reprieve from your typical game day preparation. How did you spend the day off? Did you catch any other college games on TV, or did you take a break from football completely?
Taliaferro: I stayed at home with my roommates, just playing some video games and chilling. We watched Notre Dame play Michigan State and saw a few other games.

Question: Without football to watch and play during the offseason, what do you do with the spare time?
Taliaferro: The usual-video games, homework, just chilling with a lot of people. I like hanging out at Mellow Mushroom.

Question: Now it’s time for some “quick hit” questions. Favorite class?
Taliaferro: Criminology.

Question: Most prized possession?
Taliaferro: A cross my mom gave me-I don’t wear it during games though, because I wore it in practice once and the chain broke.

Question: What food can you absolutely not stop eating?
Taliaferro: Pizza.

Question: If you could visit any place in the world, where would you go?
Taliaferro: Tokyo.

Question: What’s your favorite weight-lifting exercise?
Taliaferro: Bench.

Question: And your least favorite?
Taliaferro: Front Squat.

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