FOOTBALL: ACC KIckoff Press Conference

FOOTBALL: ACC KIckoff Press Conference

Who’s our first
question for Bryce? We’re going to go to our
right in the first row. And here we go. Bryce, Dan Tortora,
Wake Up Call, Just what you could say as a
representative of this team if you feel that this is a
team that’s trending upward. If you’ve been getting a
sense of that in your time at Virginia and if you feel
like this season is maybe you on the precipice of doing
something even better? I mean, yes definitely. Just looking at last
summer to this summer and even last spring
of this spring, the sense of urgency we have as
a team in how you know, player to player accountability
and just how we train is definitely grown from
last year to this year. I think everybody on our
team is starting to believe and starting to
work like you know, we deserve to be in
the top conversations. So we expect to be great and we
won’t settle for anything less. Next question for
Bryce from the room. Bryce, I’ll ask it
from the podium. I had the chance last year to be
at Duke to watch your football game against the Blue Devils. And at one point during the
game I heard all of this noise. I looked across
the field, thought it might have been the
fans making the noise, but it turned out
to be the sideline. What is it about the
Bronco Mendenhall program? Where’s the energy coming
from that you guys are creating your own loud
noise during the course of a ballgame? Oh, man. I mean we definitely emphasize
the fourth side a lot. You know, after games you will
come in and have a team meeting and kind of just observe
and kind of analyze how effective people were
that weren’t playing or maybe weren’t playing at the time and
just how much energy they bring to the game and to the stadium. I mean, it definitely
matters you see you see with Duke, even
in South Carolina and Miami, how animated we were
and how much you know we fed off it, whether
it be offense or defense. And you know, it just
brings life not only to us to the fans, which also you
know is a big part of the game. So the fourth side is
something we pride ourselves on and definitely people
that you know participate in pride themselves on. To your left in the second row. Bryce, Doug Doughty
with the Roanoke Times. 212 rushing attempts last year. As I repeat that
number, would you like that to go up, go
down, or be about the same? Oh, well I didn’t
even know that. I mean, really whatever
the game calls for. I mean, there will
be games where it calls for it to be higher. There are going to be games
that call for it to be lower. I mean, whatever the games
call for, it’s for us to win. I mean, that’s the ultimate
end goal is to win. So whatever I need to
do and whatever role I need to play in to do
so, I’ll be happy to. We’re going to go back to Dan
in the first row to your right. Bryce, I’m the media guy to
believe you and Bryce Hall, the face is kind of split there. Just what you can
say first about kind of being the face of this
season with Bryce Hall, and at the same
time, what you think about practicing up
against him and kind of what he brings to the table. I mean, it’s an honor
just to be representative of this team on
the offensive side because there’s only two guys
that get to come up here. And to be with a guy like
Bryce, who as you know, I definitely learn a lot from
just as far as the leadership aspect, you know, as a
player and how he trains and how he treats his body. It’s definitely an
inspiration to me. And going against him every
day in spring and will coming up in the fall is
definitely a challenge. But it definitely is going
to not only better myself, it’s going to better
the receivers. And it’s going to
better the team. So you know, we’re
not going to go up against a much better corner. We’re not going to go up against
a better corner than him. So I mean, it allows us to
get that early work on early. Bryce, to your left, first row. Bryce, Steve Reed
from Associated Press. There’s been six different
champions in the coastal over the last six years. Virginia is the only
one that has hasn’t won. How much would it
mean to you guys and do you feel like you have
a chance to win this division? Yeah, I mean we know
what we have on our team. And we definitely
have the talent, and we definitely
have the mindset to. And this is going
to be a fact of you know, how hard in late season,
late games in the season, you know, how
competitive and ferocious we take the field
in those games. That’s going be a
determining factor. And not only that,
but closing out games. We have to become a team
of great finishing ability. So just keeping that in
the back of the mind. Keep it on the left right
here still in the first row. Bryce, Ron Counts of the
Charlottesville Daily Progress in Virginia. Last season, maybe you
snuck up on some folks. But now everyone
knows your name. How is the added attention
been like for you? And how is it going to kind
of change your approach to be essentially playing with
an x on your back this season? I mean, I’m definitely
for me, I mean, I’ve always been a
biggest critic of myself. And definitely I’m
self-motivated to do better personally for personal reasons
more so than just having a lot of attention
on me, I definitely be the best version of me I can. And last year gave me
something to work on and it gave me a platform to
strive for this year and kind of overachieve on that. So I’m just making sure that
all I can be for this team. And I think what separates
a good quarterback from a great quarterback is the
ability to win a championship. So having that as a motivation
and just keep going. Bryce, your last question to the
right, fifth row about midway. Bryce, how much did the bowl
victory and a dominant bowl performance convince you
and kind of vault you guys into this offseason after
bouncing back from the Virginia Tech game, obviously? I mean, I think
the Virginia Tech loss was a great thing for
a team looking and going into the South Carolina
game because it kind of set the mindset about practice
and how practice should be. You know, coming off
a loss, the only thing that’s going to
make it feel better is the next week after a win. So how we practice for three
or four weeks leading up to that game with
so still just mad you know, just
mad and ferocious. So looking after the
South Carolina game, we’ve got to make sure
that we know what it takes to perform at that level. So let’s not have it
take a loss for us to get back to that
level competitive in this and just start it how we should. I mean, definitely
you see if you ever come to our summer workouts
we definitely have been training like that all summer. Mr. Perkins, we thank
you for the time. We’ll have you take a seat. And we’ll bring up Mr. Hall. Thank you. The second of our two Bryce’s
will join us for a few minutes. Reminder, if you
would please identify yourselves and the agency
that you are with please. The second in the tandem of
cornhole champions, Bryce Hall now with us. So our first question
will go to Dan here in the first
row to the right. Bryce, same question
for you as well. Just if you feel
this team has been on maybe a consistent
uptick, if you feel like you’re on the
precipice of something going into this season. Absolutely. You know, I think anytime,
we’re in this league, and we want to win
a championship. And so I don’t think you ever
go into a season thinking that you’re not aiming
for that as your goal. And so with that
in mind, I think there is understanding what
we did last year, trying to learn from our
mistakes, and then kind of put that behind us. Because I think the
more you kind of dwell on what you did in the past
can make you complacent moving forward. And so with that
in mind, we know what we’re capable of doing. And so now we’re
trying to be even better than we were a year ago. Still on the right side,
this time in the second row. Bryce, Lamont Thomas,
Legacy Maker Sports. Yourself, [INAUDIBLE]
Joey Blount, what is it about UVA and your program
that produces this high caliber of defensive backs? I think it goes into
the coaching, obviously. I think when you have
the coaching staff that we have that pushes
us each and every day to be the best that we
can be, even though it’s uncomfortable a lot of times. And it really stretches
you in different ways. And so having that culture
and being in that for a while, and knowing and understanding
because they come from a place where they had a lot of success. And they understand what
greatness looks like. And so being around them and
learning and taking coaching and just trusting in everything
that they have for us and what they’re
instilling in us. It’s helped us to
be everything that I think you’ve seen over the
past couple of years or so. And so I think it goes
into trusting and believing in what they have for us and
coming in and actually applying what they’re teaching us and
preaching us every single day. Bryce, go to the camera stand. In the very back, gentleman
with his hand in the air. Hi Bryce over here. There you are. Hi Dave Walls from
WSET in Lynchburg. Coach Mendenhall and
his staff have really preached the motto of everything
earned, nothing given to you. Now that you’re coming off a
winning season, how much harder is coach and the
upperclassmen really hitting that message hard that hey,
now that doesn’t matter we came off a winning season. We have to go out there
and re-earn everything again over the summer. Absolutely. And you know, the thing
is after each year, we’re always looking at
how can we be better, how can we improve. And so that thing is just
you know it’s reoccurring. And so, like you said. Each year we’re trying to
figure out how can we be better. And through the process
and one of our core values is earned, not given. And so when you have that
mindset and perspective that no matter what happened
last year, this is a new year. And you have to go out and
earn it each and every week. And so nothing’s
guaranteed to you. Nothing’s going to
be given to you. And so with that mindset
and that approach, it helps us put in
perspective that we’re going to have to come
out each and every week and earn everything that we get. To your left, Bryce, second row. Doug Doughty with
the Roanoke Times. Looking back seven
or eight months, how tough was your
decision to stay in school for another year? Yeah. And I think through over the
these past couple of months of me being here,
I absolutely think it was the best decision
for me because I’ve developed in areas that I might
not have been able to develop had I gone to another level. Just as a leader, you know,
I’m being stretched every day as far as trying to hold people
accountable to the standard or just progressing
and understanding it’s not about you,
it’s about other people. And then also being
humble when you know you get a lot of
praise and things like that. But also being humble and being
the example each and every day when you show up to
work and learning how to encourage others
and communicate and share the vision. And it’s taught me something
something– very, very valuable lessons
that I don’t know I would have had the chance to. And there’s a reason
that you know, I felt like God had called
me back for another year. And so I’m understanding and
I’m learning that now that it’s been the best decision for me. And I didn’t really
see that at first. But now going through it,
I’m starting to see that. And so I’m just trying to
learn each and every lesson through each situation and try
and learn and grow from them. Bryce, your last question
here on the left at the end. Ron Counts, the Daily Progress. Bryce, whether it’s football,
basketball, or academics, the word people keep using to
describe you is perfectionist. I’m curious where
does that come from? Is there– was there someone
in your past or experience that really kind of
drove that home to you? You know, I think
yeah, there is. I think things that
my dad instilled in me growing up and just kind
of realizing early in life that things aren’t going
to be handed to you. And so you have to work for
what you want to accomplish and then coming
into this program, being around Coach
Mendenhall and Coach Howe and the defensive guys
has taught me a lot about there’s a right way
and there’s a wrong way to do things. And so I’m trying
to do everything I do to the best
of my perfection. And so I have a
verse that I’ve been like kind of going
off of this year is do everything you
do as unto the Lord. And so with that in mind,
it’s like you know, understand everything– be faithful in
the little things. Even though they don’t
seem like they’re important in the
moment, but just to take every little thing
seriously and everything and try and do it to the
best of your abilities. I think that’s where it kind
of comes in, trying to do– being a perfectionist, trying
to do things the right way. And so obviously I’m not
perfect by any stretch. And I always mess up
and make mistakes. But it’s trying to do
things as best as you can. And I attribute that a lot
to you know the coaches and how they’ve know instilled
that work ethic in us, and then also just
you know the culture that we’re building here. Bryce, thank you very much. You can have a seat. Enjoy the rest of the show. Coach Mendenhall will
come up, and we’ll spend about 15 minutes with him. Once again, even though
we’ve introduced ourselves to the student athletes,
please reintroduce yourselves to the head coach. And our first question for Coach
Mendenhall will come from who? We’re going to go front row
here, Coach to your right. Coach Dan Tortora,
Wake Up Call, Your three years at Virginia
as you head forward here, just what you can say
you you’ve learned from your time in Virginia? You once just a short time
ago stood up at this podium and were here for
the first time. Now looking back at
that moment to where you are standing at that podium
again, just what you’ve learned and what you’ve taken
as you step forward. What I’ve learned at Virginia
is it’s a magical place. I recently heard our
university president, Jim Ryan, give an address where he
talked about those at UVA, he expects us to
be good and great. Great meaning how we perform,
how we accomplish our tasks, how are worthy of
our hire, but good meaning the morals, values, and
integrity in which we do it. So what I’ve learned at UVA is
it does matter that you’re good and it does matter
that you’re great. And those are our expectations. I’ve also learned that there are
amazing young people, bright, and vibrant, and articulate,
and young guys that I’m really proud of. I’ve become connected to
the two Bryce’s over here and other members
of our team in a way that I’m not sure I
knew was possible. Doing hard things together
is a bonding experience. And it’s enriched
human relationships in a way that’s maybe the
most gratifying I’ve ever had through coaching. What we’re accomplishing, not
accomplished, but accomplishing and what we’re
building I think is something that will be looked
at as exceptional at some point, and I’m lucky to
be part of that. But I also– what
I’ve learned is how difficult that is and
the deficit we launched from. And it’s gratifying that
we’re making progress. Coach to your left, first row. Coach, Steve Reed
from Associated Press. You talked about trying to be
good or trying to be great. And I asked Bryce,
you know, hey there’s been six different champions
in this division, one of them. You’re the only
team that hasn’t. How much would it
mean to get there? And do you feel like you
guys are on the precipice? Are you right there,
ready to take that step and is that the goal? So I’ll start in reverse order. Certainly it’s the goal. Any time that you’re part
of a conference, the goal is to win the
conference championship. That’s one of the values of– some of the value added
of being in a conference is to win the
conference championship. Yes, it would be nice
for us to clean up this nice little package of
now us being the seventh team, the seventh different
team to win the coastal. It doesn’t always
work like that. That will happen when we earn
it and when we play well enough for that to happen. A year ago, two overtime losses
prevented that from happening. Those overtime losses
weren’t accidental. We were outplayed
and we didn’t execute in the critical moments. But we did apply
those learnings. We worked relentlessly and
shut out an SEC opponent. That was another indication
of our capability. We have as good a
chance as anyone on our side of the division
to win this league. And I don’t think it’s
a stretch to say that. We have a returning quarterback. We have a strong defense. We have a culture of excellence,
and we have confidence. And we have an expectation that
that’s what we are capable of. Now doing that is the next part. So we’re optimistic. We’re excited but also
acknowledge the challenge. And as you said, it hasn’t
been done for a while for UVA. That would make it that
much more gratifying if we are the team to
be able to do that. Coach to your left, first
row, through the podium here. Hey Coach. Jim Hobgood, “Hoos
Talking” in Richmond. I was going to ask you
about the overtime thing. So I might just
throw that in there. Is overtime part of your game
planning from week to week? And maybe just a
second question, I saw you talking to Bryce
Perkins when Bryce Hall was up there speaking. Talk about your relationship
with your quarterback and how important that
is for the football team. Addressing the
first question which is regard to
overtime preparation, certainly we are adding that
with increased emphasis. That’s part of what happens
as your program builds in competency. Games become meaningful. The type of situations you
encounter become more pressure filled. And each of those
steps is qualified for. So winning 10 is different
than winning eight. Overtime preparation and
critical moment preparation is something our program needs. And it’s something that
we’ll continue to focus on. And as all of to
win a championship, there are critical moments. If you look at Coach
Bennett’s program, overtime wins do
matter in the quest of a national championship. If you look at
our lacrosse team, overtime wins, that
is part of winning a national championship. We’re still in
the learning phase of handling overtime and
pressure filled moments with high stakes on the line. But what we can do is apply
the learnings and the very next chance we got and shut out
an opponent who was supposed to be not shutout-able. And so we did apply
those learnings. We just have to do that on
a more consistent basis. In terms of my
conversation with Bryce, I’m very thankful and
lucky Bryce chose UVA. He’s the primary reason we
jumped our win output from six to eight. He’s one of the primary
catalysts for our program. I acknowledge his role and quite
frankly, how he goes, we go. That’s part of being
a quarterback at UVA under our system. What I was talking
with Bryce about and he could probably
share it as well, I was talking about
in this setting, to speak slowly,
articulately, make eye contact because the tendency
is to race what you say. And he has a vibrant
message to share. He’s very wise and
the content matters. And I just want to make
sure that every one of you had a chance to hear it. So we were talking
about presentation is what I was talking to
him about just a second ago. Still here on the left
in the second row. Doug Doughty from
the Roanoke Times. Could you talk a little
bit about your schedule? Obviously you have the
three straight home games in September
followed by four road games in five weeks in October. A really unique
challenge– there is there’s never
an ideal schedule. And there’s never an ideal
schedule for an existing team at least that I’ve coached yet. We have a great opportunity
and a formidable challenge in our opener. We play Pitt on the road which
is an ACC opener, arguably against the two teams
that we’re competing and had the best chance to
win the coastal last year in a hard fought game. We haven’t beaten them yet. It’s a significant
challenge which adds urgency to our fall camp preparation. And then as you
mentioned, it’s cyclical. We have games at home which
is only part of the story. Who you play is also part of it. And then to be on
the road knowing that most of those games
are conference games, that’s a difficult challenge. However, we’ve had three
years of preparation. Hopefully, we’ve
learned and will apply all the things necessary
to help us through that stretch with this team who I think
is capable of handling it. But it will not be easy. Coach, camera position
in the very back, gentleman’s arm in the air. Hi Coach. Dave Walls from
WSET in Lynchburg. Building off the
schedule question, playing Liberty again late in
the season, first of two parts. 1– how did you find playing
them late in the season? That maybe helped
prepare you for those for that last Virginia Tech game
and late in the season kind of get you tuned up. And then secondly could you talk
about playing the team again with Hugh Freeze
and the additions he’s made in Lynchburg. So the Liberty schedule fits
into a scheduling paradigm that I like for the
University of Virginia. And that means I like close
and I like regional games of intrigue. Knowing the ACC asks us to
play in addition to our ACC conference which
by the way, I think is exceptional
from top to bottom. When you count the
crossover games as well, I think our league is deep. It has the national champion. And it’s won– shoot, more
games in the postseason than any other league
recently in in ’19. So to underestimate
what the league is like would be a mistake
for anyone not to assess it as such, which is a
very strong league. So I like the idea of then
playing the one other power 5 team that we’re asked to play. And then I like
the idea of three regional intriguing teams. Liberty made a lot of
sense, as did Old Dominion. And those are teams that I think
tie the state together and add a different level of interest. In terms of Hugh
Freeze, his track record in terms of success
speaks for itself, his offensive ingenuity. And I think it certainly
is what Liberty wanted in terms of a football coach. And that’s who they got. In terms of the
timing, that just happened to work out within
the ACC scheduling construct. It really wasn’t intentional. I would just as soon
have played them earlier. But where it fit
is where it fit. Coach, first row to your
left right there at the end. Coach, Ron Counts from
the Daily Progress. You mentioned in
the past you’ve only coached a handful
of players that have the kind of
dedication to film study that Bryce Hall does. Was that innate in him when
he came in as a freshman or was it something
he had to be taught? And how has that kind of
played into his development into one of the best
quarterbacks in the country? So Bryce Hall’s
preparation started with interest and desire. So Bryce was anxious to
learn, anxious to improve, anxious to perfect
his skills and really was craving feedback on how to
become an exceptional player. Coach Howell, our defensive
coordinator and secondary coach provided a lot of insight. I simply supervise and architect
kind of the learning process. Bryce then really
approaches every day as if he is going to work. He shows up early. He has his own space
basically dedicated in our football facility where
he studies film and practices his craft on film and on paper. And he’s there from morning
till night around his classes. That’s not something that every
player in our program does. But it provides a
great example for what I would like the
future of our program to look like by more players. And when your most
successful players have those kind of habits,
it gives you your best chance for them to be passed on to
other players in your program and then have a strong culture. And we would not
have had this success over three years
and the trajectory that we’re on which
is rapid, fast, and sustainable without
players dedicating and showing that kind of initiative
that Bryce Hall is doing. Coach, your last
question from the podium. Here on Saturday, we
celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. And in 1962, John F. Kennedy
said, we go to the moon. We choose to go to the
moon because it is hard. If we reshape that and said,
we choose to play football because it is hard. What is it about
football that is hard? You’ve touched a
nerve now with me in terms of a topic
I’m passionate about. I just finished reading
a book that I love. It’s called the
obstacle is the way. I think football is hard
if the coach and the leader intentionally designs challenges
to ensure that it’s difficult and stretches and molds
and grooms young people to do things they’ve
never done before. I don’t think all
football is hard. I think there are some
programs and some coaches and some approaches where
it might not be hard. I think that would be doing a
disservice to the development of young people. I love challenges that
ask you to be and do more than you’ve ever done before. And that’s where growth happens. And I’m passionate about
the growth of young people. And so when you move
yourself and 14 staff members and over 60 little
kids across the country to inherit a program,
that’s hard but great. Relationships are
formed that couldn’t have been formed before. Depth is added
that couldn’t have been added before,
and then relationships with these players
and who they become couldn’t have been ever
formed without taking those risks and the inherent
challenges with them. And that in itself
is the reward. I can’t say that winning
isn’t tracked because it is. And I can’t say there is
security because there isn’t unless you win. But to miss the construction
of hard challenges for each individual on your
program and every day to me would be doing a
disservice knowing that the work by Angela
Duckworth on grit says that grit or doing
hard things consistently is a greater predictor of young
people’s success than test score or GPA. So if you know that and you
care about your players, why wouldn’t you ask
them to do hard things knowing it’s going to
determine their outcome? And that’s what we’re
working on at UVA.

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