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Nov. 5, 2012

Q. What do you see in Miami and what do you think about them having an extra couple days to prepare for you with that Thursday night game?
COACH LONDON: Obviously, they have a few dynamic players. Their team is athletic. The freshman, Duke Johnson is everything that he’s been made out to be. He’s very explosive. He gets his hand on the football in various ways, the offense is very creative with them. They’ll be the biggest team we play.

Look at their tackles. They’re like 6’7″, 6’8″ and their guards are 6’8″, 6’6″ inside. They have a veteran quarterback that’s been playing in college games they do a lot of things defensively. Mark D’Onofrio was on the staff when I was here, their defensive coordinator. They do a lot of game planning based on the opponents that they play. They play a lot of young players as we do.

As I’ve said, probably one of the more athletic teams, and probably team speed is probably another thing that jumps out at you when you watch tape on them. I don’t know. Obviously, it gives you a couple of extra days if there are any injuries issues to deal with that. It gives you opportunities to look at yourself more. You know, they spend all of that time on us, or if they, knowing Coach Golden, probably did some things to think about themselves and what they do. It’s hard to say. Whether it’s through preparing the scouting report, film study, or self-evaluation of what you do, then obviously it could be a good thing for you. So I’m quite sure they utilize those extra days to benefit them.

Q. With the two QB system, was there a debate about it or what went into it?
COACH LONDON: There wasn’t a whole lot of debate about it. In talking in the past, and as I said before, both guys have things that they do. Different skill sets that’s they bring to the table. Michael is a guy that’s been in the offense, knows the offense – Phillip has a strong arm and is kind of learning on the job, so to speak. And he has some skills himself that we like, and can get the ball to some of the other playmakers.

So as practice went on and looking at the things that they do well and trying to game plan and fit plays that fit their skills, whether it’s based on arm strength or using the ball to run out of pocket scenarios with them, we just looked at it as here we have two guys that have done and have run the offense and they both bring something to the table for us. So it was more of let’s find the plays that they can do, and let’s put a scheme together that can help benefit not only them, but the players that we’re trying to surround them with. Whether it’s out of pocket, drop-off, play-action, the reads, those type of things. As the open week went on, they shared reps. There were only two of them, so between the ones and twos, they shared all the reps.

Then we just went into the game week preparing the same type of way. As they had the opportunity to go into the game, they executed the game plan that coach and the staff put together that he said this kind of fits best what they do. Things worked out for us. We’ve gone to the one, and then the other one.

I think where we are right now as we prepare to not only come out of that game but going into this game is that we will continue to do the same thing.

Q. Couple guys, Brathwaite and Canady, don’t start but earned ACC Player of the Week honors. Can you talk about that?
COACH LONDON: Well, Maurice had his first college start. I talked about him last night, and he was getting most of his reps on our nickel package. That’s one of those, maybe third down or second and long situations where we match personnel groupings and bring the extra DB in, he had been that guy.

And Drequan Hoskey, I believe I said he had a dislocated kneecap in practice, whatever happened to him, it was evident that he probably couldn’t go the entire game. Then Maurice was thrust into now not only the every-down corner, but when there was a nickel package, he was going to stay in the game. So he went from probably 15 to 18 reps a game to about 73 reps. That is a significant amount of reps. But made some one-on-one tackles, and looked good coming out of his back-pedal and break, made the interception and a nice return.

He’s another promising young player that we think will be good for us. And Brathwaite with that rotation of Will Hill and Brent Urban, he probably gets more reps than Brent. Brent starts along with Will Hill, but he ends up playing his way into the game and doing things that tackles for a loss and the two sacks even with David Dean in the mix there, has made his playing time increase.
At the same time, I think there is a good young group, outside of Brent, a young group of inside tackles that are rotating in there that are going to deserve the playing time that they get. So it’s very positive that they have a lot of football in front of them, talking about Maurice and Chris. And a lot of guys on this team have a lot of football in front of them. When they have an opportunity to perform and they get recognized by the ACC and their accomplishments – that’s a good thing.

Q. What do you tell your team moving on?
COACH LONDON: I think last year there was a lot made about having won games in November. I think that’s one of the things that they’ll put through our strength and conditioning and development that being able to go down the stretch. We look at all of those guys, like Billy [Schautz] is not 100 percent, but if you look at our team now going down the stretch as last year, there are not too many guys that are injured that are out because of various injuries.

Evan has done a really good job of maintaining their strength. During the open week they maxed on their bench presses and power cleans, and there were 25 or 30 new maxes.

So sometimes teams lift to maintain as the season goes on. We lift to continue to get stronger as the season goes on. That is evident in the numbers that are put up. So we talked about winning in November. Not only from transferring that effort that happens down in the weight room on to the field as well. So with Miami, obviously, another November game, and an opportunity with only two home games left here, an opportunity to play well again against a team that we’ve played well against in the past. That is kind of the mantra and the mindset right now.

Q. Zachary Swanson had a good receiving game – did you game plan that?
COACH LONDON: I think it’s more when you have an open week and see what you’re doing, like he’s the guy that’s always leading on the power play. He’s the kickout guy, the lead ISO guy. If you evaluate what you’re doing and you go into a game and look at the same things they’re looking at when they’re looking at tape. So having an opportunity to, instead of running the power, he comes out into the flat and throw him the flat route, or throw kind of the wheel route and throw one of the longer receptions that he got.

So Zack’s probably a tight end, and he’s in a tight end’s body playing fullback. I would be surprised if perhaps next season with the loss of Colter and Freedman, that’s where he ends up. But right now he’s playing the position that we need. But again, when you have those extra days to look at what you’re doing, and that’s something we had a chance to look at and call those plays that he was involved in as far as catching the ball, we’ll do that.

Q. You had some success with that uniform combo, what made you choose that and who chose it? Will you be wearing it again anytime soon?
COACH LONDON: Well, that was a the road uniform combination. Believe it or not, I get quite a few emails about suggesting new uniform combinations. Actually, the last couple of times I’ve talked about I don’t care what the uniform combinations are, as long as we’re executing the X’s and O’s. Our equipment guy, Kyle Riley did research and came up with the road combo that we had some sort of winning combination. And I said that sounds good to me, so let’s wear it.

Q. What is the strategy he uses for that?
COACH LONDON: Like you guys, he goes back and does research on the last uniforms that were worn in away games. You look back in 2011, at Indiana – at Maryland, at Miami and at Florida State.

Q. You only wore the orange helmets for the bowl game last year?
COACH LONDON: Yeah, for the bowl game. So Kyle Riley, there you go. This one’s for you, man.

Q. How much have you seen a difference in this team? There is a long way to go, but you guys could actually win three games before this is over.
COACH LONDON: It goes back to what Mike just asked about the mindset of winning in November. I had talked to you guys before about this turnover issue and not giving the ball up. One of the points of emphasis was, hey – “listen, it’s okay to throw the ball away. Or to pull the ball down and run with it.”

I think Michael Rocco had 20-something yards and did a great job of making a guy miss. I don’t know if he missed, but he spun off of it and got the first down on the QB sneak – same thing with Phillip on the scramble for the touchdown. Just be smart with the ball.

You saw if you could take care of the ball and limit those things in the air, you’ve got a shot. We practice those ball disruption drills all the time. Then the week in practice, I’d stop practice and we’d go celebrate – practice celebrating when we have a turnover. I always envisioned the turnovers would come and when they come, they’d come in bunches and that’s what happens sometimes.

You just catch the interception or the ball bounces a crazy bounce and you look at the interception that Eli got that was actually hit by Jake Snyder, and Daquan Romero batted the ball, and Eli had come around, all the way around on a pass rush and was right there at the spot.

So many times things like that happen where you’re not there or just a step late. So it becomes contagious and you’ve got to continue that on in this next game. We had like 14 or 15 possessions, and we normally have 12 when those turnovers occurred, you look at the players and the sidelines, and that can get a whole team rejuvenated. So I think you work hard at it and stay the plan of how you practice and make the emphasis on those things that are important. And I think the guys did a good job of being in the right place, right time, and being fearless and going after the ball.

We have to continue to do that with this team because they’ll throw it deep. They have their running backs, Keith Johnson, they have eight, and they’ll get two personnel, two tight ends, two backs, and they’ll try to run the ball right at you. Then they’ll spread it out and mash protect, and — not mash protect, but they’ll spread it out and say, all right, this guy’s fast. Let’s see how fast you are. Then they’ll throw the ball vertically and make you go up and play in the air and go get it.

So we’ve got to come down with interceptions, sacks, if Morris is going to drop back like that, and just again, try to create turnovers to keep us in the game.

Q. How much does that effect the spirit of the team – winning a game in that fashion and now with Miami coming in – a team you have had success with, just talk about that.
COACH LONDON: Having won several games there, obviously, it was my job to make sure that we find ways to win games, and that we keep the atmosphere, and spirit of the team up and encourage the players and talk about what can happen. When you win a game like that on the road, their homecoming, our fans tucked up in the high corner of one side of the stadium, and our band tucked up in the high corner on the other side of the stadium, you’re just out there and it’s just you.

When you have an opportunity to be successful like that, particularly with young players, you catch them again about things that can happen. Again, we control our own destiny here. But the most important thing is this game right here beats Miami, and they’re excited about playing this game, as I said.

2010, last year down there, I know that Coach Golden is going to be reminded of that. That game down there at their place and how that game went. But we’re reminded of it too, it goes back to winning in November and having a chance to keep some of these goals alive. It was a good practice Sunday. Lot of energy in the weight room. You know, winning helps for a lot of things. When you haven’t won several games, you get that feeling back when you win and what it feels like. We crave wanting to win games. We have to. To get a taste of it again, that’s something that we’re looking forward to.

Q. What do you see with Miami?
COACH LONDON: When you look at their tape, and I alluded to it before, when you see them play, you see them game planning different teams and doing different things. They could be zone blitz one game, one team. It could be man pressure with another team, doing things that their linebackers and the rotation of the coverages, so you kind of look at when they’re playing a particular game. There is always something that they’re doing different that you might not have seen a game or two games before.

But what they do well is because of the speed that they have. They play man coverage pretty well. Whether that means man coverage with blitzes or man coverage with an extra safety down in the box. So if your tight end blocks, he’s another run defender.

So I’m quite sure we’ll see something that we haven’t seen, but it will be game planned on what they see or what they think we may give them.

Q. What is the news with the suspensions from last week? I see two back on the depth chart. And talk about Da-Da Romero and what you saw in the tape of his performance at NC State.
COACH LONDON: LoVante’ and Henry Coley are in, and right now Jeremiah’s not. There are still some pieces that he has to do before. He’s on the team, but there are still some things that he has to do before – if he’s brought back for the rest of the season. So Henry and LoVante’ have done what they’re supposed to do.

As far as Da-Da is concerned, when you’re at the game and you’re watching things happen, one of the things I thought – defense did a nice job of making the ball being thrown in front of us, not giving them the deep ball. So when you’re watching the game and as competitive as we all are, they complete a pass and under route 6 or 7 yards, it’s like, come on, we’ve got to go.

But after the game, and going over the grades with Coach Brown and the defensive coaches, he actually played a pretty good game. He played a game that he missed a tackle, but at the same time he was involved in some tackles. He was involved in the INT that Eli got, he extended a lot of reps, a lot of opportunities.

So, after the fact looking at the film, if you had to say how did he play well, you could say that he did play well-being his first college start as well.

Q. You getting to a point where the opponents need to defend your team in a balanced approach?
COACH LONDON: I’d like to think so. What we saw is there is a need to have ability in your offense being able to run the ball, as KP did and Perry. Being able to throw underneath and the short intermediate routes and having an opportunity to throw the ball deep – I think when you can show all those three things that defenses have to defend the run, the deep passes, the play-action passes, and the short underneath routes, I think you make yourself more versatile and give yourself a chance to do things like that.

So we’ll continue to keep looking at what other teams give us, and what we have in our package to do some of those things that I just mentioned to you. That’s going to be the key, not to be so one-dimensional. If all you’re doing is trying to run the ball and you can’t run the ball, then you’ve got to find ways to move the ball. Maybe that’s out of pocket, play-action pass.

The thing about Miami, they’re so per-game detailed in terms of what their game plan is. We’ll find out and we have an idea of what they may do, but there is always something that they’ll do and they’ll come up with that you haven’t practiced for that is kind of the new coverage or the new front for the day. So at this point in the season with so many games played, there are not too many coverages that we haven’t seen. And being able to execute whatever they do and being balanced is going to be key for us.

Q. Going back to Da-Da, fairly or not you wanted to see the film – what did you see?
COACH LONDON: It’s been a transition, a tough transition. Coming out of Phoebus High School in Hampton, Virginia. A lot of times he had his hands on the ground rushing. You make the transition from the stand-up linebacker to coverage and things like that.

So he was another one of the players that got here mid-semester. That was the year that also David Watford was here, and they both came together. But he’s learned how to be a linebacker. His body has changed and his understanding of coverages and run fits has changed. He was a special teams contributor before this thing happened with Henry.

But like Maurice and Brathwaite, he’s now been extended an opportunity to go into the game and contribute and produce, and he’s done so. That’s a good thing for us. It’s a good thing for us that he can contribute and produce the way he did in this past game.

Q. Miles Gooch, can you talk about where his developments are currently?
COACH LONDON: When you talk about Miles, he’s a selfless player. All of these guys like to play a lot.. He has played more in the game. He’s a big, physical presence in terms of locking on the perimeter down in the red zone. If his number is called, to go up and get it, he’s got that type of size, receiver size, and athletic ability to go up and get it.

He’s worked extremely hard at being a player that can contribute, you know. That’s all he wants to do is contribute to this team – special teams guy. During the open week he was consistently pointed out as giving great effort of being the guy that is the model of what we’re looking for in terms of that type of effort. Actually that type of effort in the practices and special teams-wise led to his increased role in the scrimmage downs for second and third down because of the type of effort and things that he was doing.

Again, he’s a player that will hopefully get him a catch or a touchdown or like all wide receivers like to touch the ball, but his role right now, he’s embraced it and done a really good job so far.

Q. Brent Urban started every game. Chris Brathwaite is getting a lot of reps – Urban had a coming out game at NC State.
COACH LONDON: Yeah, I think Brent, if you look at him, he’s big and physical. I think more than anything else with everyone is that when you see someone else has a chance to go in the game that is your back-up, and you see that they’re playing well or they’re contributing and you’re going to have to raise your level as well.

I think having Brathwaite and David Dean, that is what competition is all about. Whether it was Eli or Canady or Da-Da whoever it is, no one should feel comfortable about playing in that position that they play in. I think the competition part of it, even as we go into the latter part of the season, the guys want to get a chance to play. They’re demonstrating performance on the field.

Brent had probably his best grade out game as well because he was able to just kind of use some of the technique that Coach Hanson has taught him. But he had that go-after-it hunt mentality as well.

I think that these guys know and other guys who come in and cannot contribute and everybody that wants to play, it raises everybody’s ability.

If you go back and look at the reps, I think Chris Brathwaite has probably played more reps in the end, ultimately. But Brent has started and done some nice things. Stayed in on a couple of pass-rush situations where he ended up being a factor.

Q. Can you talk about when Da-Da making big jump to college and second of all, it must be a real concern having five turnovers and zero points off those turnovers.
COACH LONDON: There is always a big jump between high school players that come in and the terminology and having never played a stand-up. You’ve got coverage, you’ve got run gap fit responsibilities. So, conceptually, I could see where there might be issues with him making the switch from, okay, whatever they’re running in high school to now. You’re a college linebacker and you’re working with safeties and you’re working with defensive linemen up in front of you, and you have to communicate those things and you’ve got to do it fast in a split second.

So maybe that is something that I would say he probably worked hard on getting, and it finally got to the point where he’s comfortable enough to where he is now that he’s doing a nice job with it.

When you get those turnovers like that, you want to have points off of them. You’re right. One was DJ’s fumble right after we got it. One was we missed a field goal, so that was a point opportunity. One we had to punt. One was during the series that we had to punt on the fourth down, and then Demeitre Brim made a great play in tracking the returner down and causing the fumble.

Hanging on to the ball in the red zone where DJ left it, that’s critical. Missing the 22-yard field goal, that is critical. So when you have those opportunities to get that many turnovers, you definitely want to get points out of it. So that is something that we definitely have to take care of, because there may be a game with every turnover and then whether it’s field position or field goal and a touchdown that is a result of that, we end up being very, very critical. We’re fortunate in this game it wasn’t, but it may be eventually.

So capitalizing on those turnovers particularly. You look back to the average starting field position for us was at the 40-yard line. For them, I think it was at the 22. So those field positions and turnovers and things like that will be very critical.

Q. Stephen Morris debuted here two years ago – what do you remember of him from that time to now watching film now?
COACH LONDON: We played them here a couple years ago, and Jacory [Harris] was knocked out of the game. He came in as a back-up quarterback just trying to figure out a way to move the team and help the team win. I’m quite sure that he didn’t have a bunch of reps in practice and was ready for the role that he was thrust into.

What you see now is a more mature, more confident quarterback that has the weapons that are surrounding him. Like you said, he will take you deep. You see much more confidence in him and his ability to execute their offense. Like any quarterback, the more opportunity as the years go by, the older they get, the better they become.

I think he probably fit into that role of being the guy for them now. I don’t think there are any quarterback issues with them or their team. You’ve seen the maturation process with him over the last couple years, for sure.

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