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Mike London seeks to infuse more balance into Virginia's offense

During Mike London’s two seasons at Richmond, the Spiders’ offense remained remarkably balanced. In 2008 – when Richmond won the 1-AA national title – London’s offense averaged 187 rushing yards and 179.8 passing yards per game. The following year, the Spiders went 11-2 while averaging 158.8 rushing yards and 194.8 passing yards per game.

So it comes as no surprise that one of London’s objectives for his first season at the helm of Virginia’s program is to re-establish a more equal share to the two components of the Cavaliers offense.

Virginia averaged 96.6 rushing yards per game, while averaging 203.2 passing yards per contest in 2008. Last season, the Cavaliers were slightly more balanced, though only because they were less effective through the air. They rushed for 99.1 yards and threw for 170.5 yards per game. Virginia went a combined 8-16 the past two years.

“It’s very important that we be able to run the ball and establish a physical presence on the field,” London said. “Everyone knows by running the ball you can control the clock in certain instances. At the end of the game you’ve got to be able to run the ball because you want the clock to run.

“But I think when I was here in the past and had an opportunity when I was at Richmond, that if you can run the ball then you can also set up the play-action passes that come off those complimentary run plays. So it’s going to be important for us to run the ball, push people back and create holes.”

London said he has confidence in the depth and talent of his stable of running backs and noted that if the offensive line can control the line of scrimmage, that will take considerable pressure off the shoulders of the team’s quarterback. Virginia ranked last in the ACC in 2009 in sacks allowed.

Upon his arrival in Charlottesville last December, London began formulating his vision for Virginia’s offense with the premise that he wanted to employ a more traditional, pro-style attack, one that would bring the fullback and tight end back into the fold.

“I think it goes hand-in-hand,” London said. “We’re not just a spread offense that throws the ball or a spread offense that runs the ball. We’re a team that wants to run, but also give the quarterback a chance to throw the ball and throw it deep.”

By Steve Yanda  |  August 5, 2010; 7:57 AM ET
 
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