Simmons Talks About the Cavs

"I just try to improve each week. If you look at my efficiency rating, I think it's gone up each week since game one. If I can improve in that area then naturally this offense is going to improve. I just try to improve my decision-making every week," said Willie Simmons.

QB Willie Simmons Profile

Has the team flushed Florida State from their system yet?
Simmons: Anytime there's a close game like that you are going to think about it more than usual. I think the guys have studied the film and figured out what we've done wrong and not do the same this week in Virginia. We don't want to go out and play sluggish and make things worse. We need to improve and build momentum for the rest of the season.

Is there any danger of having some emotional baggage carrying over from that loss?
Simmons: I think we have a good group of seniors and a good group of guys. Last time we lost a close game like that we rebounded pretty well against Louisiana Tech.

How are you feeling about the offense?
Simmons: Well, we are improving every week and that's what we want to do. We have some games where we felt like we performed fairly well, and others where we didn't. As a whole, I think we are growing every week and we are becoming more and more comfortable with the schemes we are putting together. Our main thing is now that we just have to start to eliminate turnovers.

Have you had a chance to study Virginia's defense yet?
Simmons: Their defense isn't going to give up a lot of big plays, they'll try and make you nickel and dime them all the way down the field. As a quarterback, that means I have to be smart with the football, taking the underneath routes and just moving the chains, instead of going downfield after the big plays. When the opportunity comes, you have to take advantage of it, but for the most part they are just going to give you 5 or 6 yards throws.

Virginia has the worst run defense in the league up this point, do you feel like you can exploit that?
Simmons: The defense with they run, it's a 3-man rush, they'll give you some run opportunities. In order to run against that you have to have guys that can line up and go straight at them, and we think we have that. Hopefully we can do that and in order to be a successful offense we have to be sound in the running game.

Do you feel like that the running backs are motivated to get a 100-yard game this week?
Simmons: I think so. You look at the three games Yusef played when Bernard was injured he was right there at 95, 99 yards a game. Take a penalty away here or there and he's got a couple of 100-yards game. Bernard wants to come out and have a big game. He feels as if he hasn't played up to his potential since the bowl game, mainly because of injuries. I think he's getting ready to come out and have a stand out game, and Yusef's also ready to break the 100-yard barrier. Hopefully both of them can do that this week. We need a 100-yard rusher. I think we need to average about 200-yards on the ground to be successful on offense.

Will you be doing a little more ball carrying now that you are more comfortable with the offense?
Simmons: Maybe. It just has to do with what the other team gives you. I'm going to run the ball a little bit to keep the defense off balance, but my main emphasis will be on the passing game and getting the ball to the right guys.

Do you feel like you are getting a better grasp of the offense week-to-week?
Simmons: I just try to improve each week. If you look at my efficiency rating, I think it's gone up each week since game one. If I can improve in that area then naturally this offense is going to improve. I just try to improve my decision-making every week.

Is this a must win game on Saturday in Charlottesville?
Simmons: It's definitely a must win. We still feel like we can accomplish the majority of the goals we set at the beginning of the season. We have a 7-game schedule left and if we can get this one, hopefully we can get some momentum and let it carry us the rest of the season.

Is this the most important game you've ever played in?
Simmons: Probably so, you know, especially being the starter. Everything that we have riding on the season rides on this game. We have to win this one to keep everything in perspective. We still have a chance to be at or near the top of the conference as far as record-wise. We feel good about our chances for the rest of the season, but we know this is a game we have to have.

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