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October 23, 2013

Q&A: London on Facing GT

COACH LONDON: We can go straight to questions.

Q. It seems like each week, whether it be because of injury or maybe just guys not performing up to par, you've turned true freshmen or redshirt freshmen along the way. It seems like most of them have done well. Have you been encouraged by guys like Tim Harris and Donta Wilkins, even with the losing streak?

COACH LONDON: You always look for bright spots and opportunities that can give your team a chance to improve itself. That's been the case for us. We talked about at the very beginning depth being an issue. But we have young depth.

There's some young, talented players that have been given opportunities to perform, and they have performed well.

In regards to how we're sitting record-wise, you wish that experience and that performance would surpass each other, but it's not there yet. There are some talented young players that are having opportunities. We haven't given up on any of the players on our team, but it's about putting players on the field that can give you the best opportunities to compete and win. That's the challenge, even with injuries and guys that you have to replace.

Q. There's a lot of talk about Georgia Tech's skill guys. They run a different blocking scheme. Is there a way to teach your guys to get off of those low cut blocks and avoid injury situations?

COACH LONDON: There's no doubt that the triple option that Georgia Tech employs, it's unique, obviously than some of the offenses you face week in, week out. There are certain styles of blocks that you have to practice in practice. They do a good job within the rules of taking advantage of what the rules allow you to do in terms of getting guys off their feet. You have to practice those types of issues, those types of blocks. Whether it's open-field cut blocks or whatever it may be, their offense is efficient when they get people on the ground. A lot of time has been spent with our linemen, linebackers, secondary people, using their hands, because you'll have to be able to use your hands to avoid the blocks that they use.

Q. It seems you use the nickel to a high degree. How much did injuries in the secondary affect your decision to use five defensive backs?

COACH LONDON: Well, the opportunity of using your personnel package is based on what other teams have. A nickel package is an extra DB basically. For a guy like (Demetrious) Nicholson, who was down, the regular corner that would be in for him, now you have to have the additional nickel person that also goes in. That brought Tim Harris into the mix. We look at other possibilities.

Brandon Phelps was a corner when he first started out. You have to look at a lot of things. You're correct, the personnel units that are used, particularly when you're guarding against a set that has four-wides or three-wides, it requires you to employ extra defensive backs if possible. It's an ongoing process for us in evaluating the guys that we have there. There's not too many other names to go to. At the same time we have to match and identify what t he threats are, then put the best players in position to help us minimize those threats.

Q. (Daquan) Romero and (Henry) Coley have had pretty good numbers. Any other linebackers made a move in practice?

COACH LONDON: What you see consistently, you have guys like Max Valles, Demeitre Brim, D.J., guys that are playing the position of linebacker. Then trying to find that third guy, again, it's just a process of evaluating the type of game that we're expected to play, then their skill, what they have that they can offer.

There's some guys kind of in the mix. You're correct, Henry and Romero have done a nice job thus far in the positions we've asked them to play.

Q. Talk about this week against Georgia Tech, what do you have to do against the diamond formation they do on the offense?

COACH LONDON: Georgia Tech has an excellent offense that's been run by Coach Johnson for a long, long time. I think one of the things you see that's most glaring that we've taken a look at is they're number two in the country in time of possession, and they're scoring 36 points a game.

On the other side, we're number five in time of possessions, but we're scoring like 22 points a game. Their defense is giving up 19 points a game. If we're going to hang on to the ball, as we've shown, we're going to have to score points. When they have the ball, they're scoring points.

Our defense will have to play well. As I said, they're scoring 36 points a game and they hang on to the ball. If we're going to hang on to the ball, we need to score points ourselves and put ourselves in an opportunity to be competitive in the game.

It's one of those offenses that they'll go for it on the fourth down. They just grind the ball up. We'll have to respond with points and making sure that we do a good job executing the things we need to do on offense.

Q. Seems like the last three games you were close till something happened. What do you have to do on Saturday to not have that reoccur again?

COACH LONDON: We have to make the field goals and not turn the ball over. That's ball security issues. It's kicks that have been made in practice and in other games. We have to keep preaching the fact that if you want to turn your season, then the opportunities to turn your season will rely on those opportunities presented in the game to make those plays or to hang on to the ball.

I think the message will continue to be ingrained in the players. If you want to change the opportunities, you have to make sure you take advantage of the coaching, teaching, the understanding of playing the game.

Q. Now that Taquan Mizzell is healthy, what do you expect from him?

COACH LONDON: I tell you, he's proven to be a dynamic player, if you saw the one run he had down the sideline there. He's a guy, whether he's in the eye, you throw a bubble pass to, toss sweep, whatever it is, he's a dynamic player.

He started on our kickoff returns. We're going to have to do some things to make sure he gets his fair share of catches as well.He can run the field. He has tremendous hands and instincts. As the season's gone along, outside of having spring practice, he's learned the offense, he's learned how to be a better runningback, he's learning protections. His development, now that he's healthy, has continued to put him into a position to be a very good player for us and have a great career here.

Q. He mentioned he tried to play through the injury initially. Was he a guy you had to pull aside and say, It's in the team's best interest to sit out a couple games here?

COACH LONDON: Most competitive players, they want to play. They don't want to let coaches down. Sometimes they don't realize the difference between an injury or being hurt, things that can affect their performance. Taquan is like a lot of guys that are talented players: he still wants to be on the field. But we have to make sure we protect him from doing any further damage to himself, not letting it affect him psychologically because he thinks he's physically healthy but it's not happening out there on the field.

You love that in competitor players. You love that fight, that want-to, and he certainly has it.



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