I always go into the season, to be quite honest with you, without expectations. I've learned through the years that's probably not the best way to approach it because each players tells his own story and develops his own way. We have been very impressed with the way Mike has come along. If you take a look at it, he's gotten better. He's better game six than he was game five.
Though he's been here a while, that doesn't translate into him being an experienced quarterback, and he's not, so he's had to go through those growing pains like all quarterbacks do. Whether it's your freshman year or your first year as a junior. He's made that position for us, we feel very confident a winning position. He's talented and he's put a good product out there but we feel like we're just scratching the surface. There is a lot more upside to him and to the offense.
Coach O'Brien said Monday that he's been pleased with Mike's poise in games. As a first year starter, is that something that maybe surprised you a little bit?
Was there a moment early on where he made a play, in practice or a game, and you knew exactly what you had?
Yeah, it was probably the fourth-down throw in the Wake Forest game when he's got a couple of guys hanging on him and he had to buy that extra count. He put together as good a throw as I've been a part of and T.J. [Graham] met the ball at that spot. That's not normal, that's special. Coach [O'Brien] right away on the headset said 'that's a special play right there.'
Talk about the way the offense has transitioned some throughout the year. The last few weeks it's been much more balanced with a focus on running the ball.
It's not just the quarterback position that evolves and what not, it's the entire offense. It's important for us to be successful running the football and it's always been that way but how you get to it might be a little different. That's what you are seeing right now. We are working with different approaches toward getting ourselves to a successful point.. We don't say to ourselves, numbers wise we need to be this or that. We say we need to be successful both in the run and the pass, now how we get to it, we play that hand out.
Is there an evolution of that even within each game?
Absolutely. Sometimes in the course of a game you get to that [original] game plan. It doesn't mean it's going to be there the first series, the second series or even the third series. They make adjustments too. Trust me, these teams we've played have good players and good coaches and they are working hard at it also. That's sort of the sparring that goes on.
Lastly, what have you seen from Virginia on film that you know has to be accounted for Saturday? They have an experienced group up there.
That's the biggest thing, they are very experienced. They are a group that has played a lot of football. There is not anything that we're going to show them that they haven't seen already. When you're playing two or three years as a starter and you have seven of them that are seniors, it helps. That's the challenge that they bring to us, our expectations are to be successful.