FOOTBALL – Bronco Mendenhall Duke Postgame Press Conference

FOOTBALL – Bronco Mendenhall Duke Postgame Press Conference
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Our team played hard today. And they played with
resiliency, and determination, and toughness, and grit. And it was a challenging
game but we knew it would be. And we knew there
would be ups and downs. And we knew there
would be lead changes. And we knew that their defense
would be disruptive and cause some problems. Fortunately, we matched
the disruption, if not exceeded that defensively. And that really
described the first half. And then the second
half became, who can consistently
get a first down? Who can capture momentum? Who can hold and
maintain field position? And just when I think
we’ve done that, then we get the kick return. And so nothing’s easy. But that’s where our
program is and that’s what we’re battling through. And I was proud of our
players for the resiliency they showed and have shown. And it’s fun, again, it’s
fun to see them smile. It’s fun to see them happy. It’s fun to see them
exhausted but also have a tangible outcome
that they can look to, to justify and to
continue the momentum that they’re generating. It’s really fun to see. So I’ll take questions. [INAUDIBLE] made you look
pretty smart on the second to last play of the game. Was [INAUDIBLE] gassed at
that point or did you put– We had quite a few
players that, I mean, I just don’t think they
can play longer or harder. They were just reaching
that threshold. And when you talk pass play
after pass play, especially when they’re starting
to complete them, there isn’t much chance
to recover and get another great pass rush. And we have two young
pass rushers right now as first years in Elliott
Brown and Charles Snowden, that are doing a nice job. And a capable and committed
and assignment sound first year that’s fresh and
can go in in a situation like that, you don’t just
put anyone out there. There was a lot at stake there. And that he not only did
what he was supposed to do, but then actually made a play
as well in that situation was really cool. Bronco, what kind of growth
does that show that you guys had adversity early in the game. Kurt looked like he’d never
played football before. And then even when
you went up to scores with the kick return,
how much does that speak to where this team
is compared to where it was when you got here? Well, I think first of
all it does speak to it. And it speaks to it
through five games, is where it speaks that we
are building resiliency. We’re building maturity. We’re building people. But we’re also building a
consistent or capable football program. And it’s starting to show. Again, I’m framing this. We’re just at the beginning. We’re just starting. But it is showing. And I think that’s
noticeable to most. But from my metrics,
it’s showing. And the mindset on the sideline
as I’m watching our players’ body language, there’s
just a resolve of, oh, that just happened, OK, next play. That just– OK, next play. And there aren’t these wild and
emotional way ups and downs. There’s just work
to be performed. And then at the end of all the
work when the game is over, then we can kind of look. And they get to explode
in the locker room. They still are. And that’s fun. I’m sure you saw Donny’s
delight when he scored that second touchdown pass. Did you see the somersault? What did you think
about the whole thing? I didn’t see it. I was just asked a second
ago before I came in here. I did not see it. And Donny already–
man, right when the team came in he
already addressed the team. And lesson learned. And we’ll move forward. And one of the
things that I love most about teaching through
football and coaching is the lessons of accountability
where this action equals and affects other people. And there wasn’t much
that had to be said. I mean, it played out
in front of everyone. And that’s one of the cool
things if a coach in a program is intentional about promoting
accountability and team before self, then
you get those moments that hopefully are
life changing for not only one young man but maybe
a group of young men as a team. Kurt, as I referenced
before, looked pretty sad in the first quarter. But some people were comparing
it to the Indiana game. How much does that say about
him that he kind of snapped out of that and came back? And obviously you guys went
with a lot more short passes. Yeah I think there’s a couple
of things that happened. The way Duke was playing
was very aggressive. And we knew that. And even when
preparing for it, I think it was faster
and a little bit more aggressive and a little better
than what we even anticipated. But then the end game
coaching is something that my staff is becoming
more skilled at in terms of putting the right
people in the right spot at the right time, and then
adjusting as things go. And so I think what you saw
in the second half was just under these circumstances, with
that score, against that team, we changed our approach. And that seemed to at least
capture some momentum, built a little bit more consistency,
and look more rhythmic and more like football. When they came in,
I think they were number one against the
run in the conference. And Jordan got 96 yards that
they seemed like 96 hard yards. What did you see
from the run game? Just that. And he seemed to get
stronger as the game went. There was hardly anything
at the beginning. But as the game went and
they played more plays and we were playing
more plays, Jordan was just continuing
to fall forward. And that’s hard to do against,
again, I think they’re good. And I think they’re
well coached and I think their schemes are excellent. And I think their
program is seasoned and I think their head
coach is exceptional. What was the thought
process on the fourth one of the very first
drive mid-field, were you trying to be
aggressive and set a tone? Did you see something? Yeah, it wasn’t
just for this game. I mean, no one’s going
to give us anything. And there’s nothing passive. And there’s nothing that’s just
kind of going to be lukewarm. I mean, we’re trying
to win every game and that mindset sometimes has
to come from the head coach in terms of what
we’re going to do. And I think the message
is that we’re capable. And I believe they can do it. And when we don’t, then
hopefully the defense stops them or etc,
and we just play. But we’re not going
to be passive. And we’re not going to be safe. And we’re not going
to be lukewarm. There are times where there’s
smart decisions and sometimes, as the head coach, it doesn’t
look like some are very smart. But the intent was we thought
it was going to take– we’re probably going to have to
steal one or two series today, somehow, some way,
because of how many plays they run
offensively and what they’ve been doing in terms
of running the football. And so I was
counting fourth downs as a way to steal a possession. Coach, you continually
try to frame this, as you said, still
scratching the surface, still getting going, but this is
something you’re accustomed to. Last year was the
aberration for you. How long until this is the
new standard, this is the new normal? The players, they,
themselves, have named what we’re doing the new standard. I didn’t name it. So they recognized it. They want that. And they want that to be normal. And so they’re striving for it. They’re investing in it. And I’m glad to help them. But it has to be theirs. And it is right now. They named it. They claimed it. They branded it. And they want a new
standard for UVA football. And they’re working really
hard to live up to that. And that’s fun because
then I just become an advocate, a mentor,
someone to help them reach what they want. And they’re seeing
it more clearly now, which is getting
some momentum. Bronco, what does this
mean to you personally to be 4-1 at this juncture? It means a lot. It’s been a challenge,
which is why I came. I mentioned a lot of times
that I like hard things and I like to build. It’s taken everything
we got, myself, and our staff, and our players. But I don’t know if many people
get to give everything they got and be with people that are
united and working toward that. So I’m fortunate to, number
one, have the opportunity. I’m fortunate that we’re
showing some signs of progress this early in our second
year that might look like and give a sense
of the direction that we could be going,
not only the rest of this year but the future. Bronco, on that drive that you
go up 28 to 14, you go 4 for 4 on third downs. What was it that
allowed you to be that efficient in
those circumstances. I think the rhythm that Benkert
was getting in, but also Robert and I as a play
caller, we were just becoming more clear
about where we might be able to get the yards. At the beginning
of the game, you saw that those yards
were hard to come by. And so we were having to become
a little less conventional and a little more
motion-oriented and run around rather than run
through, which is higher risk. But to their credit,
they made us do that. Bronco, not a
headline topic, but at times when you
had the ball, Coleman seemed your best weapon. But just the field
position he was able to create for you
guys, how important was it? I think that is the back story,
because the defenses were playing so strong. Every play just
seemed to be this– my kids would say
ginormous play. And to have the punters– they became almost the
feature there for a while. And then that shifted to– there wasn’t much
happening in the return game, other than
Joe Reed early on, he had a couple of nice returns. But boy the field position that
Lester helped us with, I think, could have been the
difference just in where the scores, if they had
one more score or not. So yeah, I was really
encouraged by what he did today. How much did Snowden
play during the game? One or two plays, I think. The last series, yeah. Yeah, the last series– That might have
been his only play. Could have been. [INAUDIBLE] I don’t know. So we put he and Elliott
Brown in against Yukon and they teamed up for a sack. We put them in at the
end of the Boise game. We had seven first
years out of that game. And I think they
had a sack there. You guys would have to
check the numbers but then, again, what it
says for our staff to put him in, if that’s
his only play, holy cow– I mean, yeah, that’s a big deal. A big deal doesn’t quite
do it justice, does it? You can take whatever
liberties you want to do to make that
better than a big deal. Ginormous is a good one. All right, thanks, everyone. Thanks.

One thought on “FOOTBALL – Bronco Mendenhall Duke Postgame Press Conference

  1. Words to live by as a leader or a parent: "Good to see them smile… and also be exhausted… but have a tangible outcome to justify and continue…" The fruits of hard work are the sweetest ones, worthy of achieving!

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