FOOTBALL: Media Availability – 8/27

FOOTBALL: Media Availability – 8/27

[MUSIC PLAYING] Bronco, there’s obviously
been a lot placed on Bryce. There’s a lot of
faith put into him. And we’ve heard a lot
of stuff about how vital he will be to this team. His numbers last year, besides
getting to the championship game, were not like
video game numbers. How much different
do you expect that he will play under this
system than the more kind of traditional quarterback
role he played last year? You know, I think
it’s to be determined. We certainly know what we
want those numbers to be. And we think we know within the
system, and past performances within the system,
what that could be. I don’t think anyone knows
as of going into game one. We’re still looking
for a reference point. And that would be for
all areas of our program. As much as any coach
would like to say they know exactly where they are
and what to expect in game one, I don’t think anyone knows
exactly what to expect. The bottom line, though,
is our quarterback position will have to be exceptional
for us to have a good year. That is the reality. And so rather than
pretend, and Bryce is embracing those expectations. Our job is to build his
capability in relation to the demand appropriately
and sequentially. And so my guess is, game
one won’t look like game 13. But hopefully it looks
exactly as it needs to for his role and his development
and our team’s development for the first game. Is it unusual to
have captains and not have your quarterback
be one of them? Not necessarily. I would say, especially in the
circumstance of a transfer. And so sometimes
as a quarterback that’s an underclassman, I think
that’s pretty typical as well. And so I would put those
in the same category. And Bryce received significant
support in the voting. But again, he’s new, which
is a little bit longer. And he certainly has
the respect of our team. But not the time, yet. And when you compare
that or contrast that to Jordan Ellis and Olamide,
I wouldn’t take it as a slight to Bryce. I would say the other two– I mean, who gets more
votes than those guys? I’m not sure it’s possible. You opened your tenure
against Richmond. And you talked so
much in the weeks after that about the
demeanor on the sideline, and the depth and the
numbers in the program, and how much work you had. And when you stop
and think about that, how far have you come
since that moment? Well, yeah, I think
the difference of a 2-10 season to a
postseason appearance is the best way to describe it. It was probably the first
and maybe most impactful recalibration. And becoming the head coach at
UVA on exactly where we were was the start of that season. And it’s certainly–
I’m not going to diminish the fact that
it was against Richmond. But really, it could
have been any team. And me then seeing
our team’s demeanor in Scott Stadium, how exactly
we were prepared, or had been prepared to play a game, and
maybe some of the existing influences that I
wasn’t aware of. And so we worked diligently
and just step by step to recreate a culture of the
love to play the game, the love to prepare to play the
game, and claiming our home space at a higher level. It is still a work in progress. But I remember just
the graphic starting point and recalibration of,
oh, this is where we are. And that’s what I
remember most about maybe that game or that time period. People made such
a strong reaction to when you told the
board of visitors there were x number of
guys who were ACC ready, and whether it’s developmental
or where you are on that. Right now, where is that
number in comparison? And are you happy with
the progress you’ve made? Yeah. I don’t intend to
have a barometer and maybe like number of
customers served, you know, like a McDonald’s or something. I mean, the reality
is I’m transparent, and I’m truthful, and
especially with my players. And I won’t share anything
outside of our team room that I haven’t shared with them. They know exactly where
they stand and always will. They know exactly what I believe
the truth is and always will. And they’ll know. And I don’t think you can have
growth as a person, as a team, without knowing where
you currently are. And I intend to keep with
that exact same format. But what I have learned
is, it’s much more powerful within the team format maybe
than with outside, or sharing it outside, where some
don’t want to understand or won’t understand. Coach, I think you’ve
said you prefer to have a multi talented quarterback. Yes. And you had an idea of
what you were getting when you recruited Bryce. What has surprised you about
him since he’s gotten here and you’ve worked with him? The biggest surprise is
poise and consistency. A lot of times with the
new players especially at that position, day by day
there’s way ups and way downs. With him it’s been more of just,
solid steady decision making. There’s still days of
or plays of volatility. But I’ve been most surprised
and impressed with consistency, especially demeanor. There’ll be gigantic
plays that he’ll make, or maybe that we don’t make, and
he just matter of factly moves on. And so his poise and
consistency, I think, will give him his best
chance and our best chance, as there are ups and
downs through the season and starting in game one,
just to kind of follow our guiding principle
of less drama, more work, which is what he is. And he didn’t come in
expecting accolades. He hasn’t required any
additional attention. He hasn’t required
any unique management. He just has been
part of our team. And I think that’s what’s
endeared him to our team. My hope is that his performance
reflects that consistency of his demeanor, because
if that happens then it allows our team to have
the earliest success possible. And as we all
know, early season, especially with the ACC,
is very, very important because wins are hard to get. How much did the time that
Richard Burney and Mandy miss because of their
injuries accelerate the development of Aaron
and Jordan in particular? Yeah, there was no one else. And so without Mandy
and without Richard, we could not practice
as a football team other than using first years
and evaluating first years. And so Aaron Faumui
and Jordan Redmond got the majority of
the work, with not only the ones but the
twos and every other group that we could put in
there, because we were out of defensive line bodies. And so the downside is, we
haven’t had the consistency to have Burney and Mandy
and Eli all together and working consistently
for all of fall camp. We’ll get a few days of
that before Richmond. But what we have done has
been able to establish significant depth
with first years. And they are still first
years, but their development has been accelerated to
the point where they’ll play significant amounts
from game one all the way through the
year, is my prediction. How would you describe
the competition between Joey and Brendan
and how it turned out? Looks like, I would say
Joey’s at the top right now. Yeah, and that’s going to
go back and forth daily, as well as within a game,
as well as game by game. It’s an exact
reflection of what I would love to have in
every position on our team. I think it makes
them both better. And also, you’ll see
certain situations where they’re used in a
little bit more relation to their skill set. So I view that position
as my ideal for our team. There aren’t many positions
that are like that currently. But if you’re saying, what
do I see in the future? It would be a
reflection of that. And has there been a resolution
to the Dylan Thompson situation? Dylan Thompson, the
status with that is, he passed his
course at Ohio State. He has graduated. He is here. He just finished his
second acclimation day. And so he’s behind,
obviously, but he is here. And so he’s practiced
with us for two days. He’ll finish his
acclimation days. He’ll have to learn
our system, obviously. It’s hard to play without
knowing what to do. And then he’ll be
integrated as he’s ready and as he earns his way in. But it is a position of need. It will be really unique
to follow how fast that matriculation happens. But I thought it was unlikely
that he would arrive. And I thought it was unlikely
he would be on our team. And so that’s been an
added bonus, again. But he’s been here
only two days so far. So we’ll see how
that comes along. Coach, you’ve talked a lot about
your depth in the secondary, but receiver is definitely
Richmond’s deepest position as well. What have you seen out
of those guys on film? Productive, consistent,
confident, and they make a lot of plays. There’s three of them that
have 60 catches or more, with a quarterback that, while
the redshirted a year ago, proved capability in the
playoffs before then. I really like their
offensive system. I think the league
that Richmond plays in, and William and
Mary and Jamie, I think it’s a really good league. And so I don’t
think good football is tied to perceived level. I think good football
is good football. And I think the majority
of teams in that league, they play good football. They’re coached well. There’s good talent. The biggest difference
is, they’re just not as deep in numbers
of scholarships. But I like their
receivers a lot. I like their quarterback. I like their system. And the other thing
is, they have a history and they know how to win. And those are the
expectations and that’s kind of just part of their identity. So yeah, I like the test. It’ll be a good one. And among those top three
receivers they have, is their one guy
that you kind of key that is the match-up
that we’ve got to stop? Not necessarily. And I think maybe
that’s why the– and certainly their
quarterback from a year ago, I watched him in
the Senior Bowl as well and I was very
impressed with him. So the system is good. Their personnel is strong. Their quarterback and those
three receivers, and I think they have two excellent
running backs as well. So I think they’ve done a
nice job with their personnel and their system. But I think the simple
key is, the more that you focus on one of
the receivers, the other two of them become capable
and more dynamic. And the workload’s been
spread pretty evenly and I don’t think
that’s by accident. So you have to defend them all. You’ve got a lot of
receivers, obviously. Chuck Davis is on
the depth chart. He’s also on the depth
chart at punt returner. I think he worked behind
Daniel Hamm there last year. Just where is he
out in his progress to come out of the blue
here and be in those spots? He just has labored
behind the scenes and he just keeps making plays. There’s no one that
we trust to catch a punt more than Chuck Davis. So if you’re saying,
who do you put out there if you are just positive with
the ball has to be caught? Which is basically
every time, right? But sometimes there’s a
trade off for someone’s catching ability,
with possibly what you might get after the catch. If it comes down to
ensuring the ball is caught, Chuck Davis is that person. We can put our entire
team around him, we can put wind in his face
with fans, we can play music, we can blindfold him, we can– I mean, he just
catches the ball, which makes a head coach
sleep better at night. And then at receiver– and today he was working
against our defense, and he just makes
play after play kind of regardless of circumstance. So steady and kind of
a journeyman backup that I wouldn’t be surprised
to see on the field for us at some point in maybe
a significant role if he keeps doing
what he’s doing. Bronco, you talked earlier about
comfort in your home space. And I think you said
last year that you never get involved in trying to get
fans to come out and just kind of let the results
speak for themselves. But if there’s
45,000 people there on Saturday and
15,000 empty seats, is there a way in the
way your mind works that you use that to try to you
know, you had success last year and went to a
ballgame, to try to use that to drive the team
to prove to more people and make them come? Oh, we know exactly
what has to happen. We need to win. And we need to win
the right way at UVA. And luckily that aligns
with exactly my philosophy. I want exceptional people,
exceptional students that play great football. And when that happens
it’s hard not to come. And it changes, it
invigorates the community. It’s a vibrant place
to be on a Saturday. And there’s a sense of
pride and accomplishment that comes with being a
UVA alum, someone that lives in this state, and
there’s something cool happening in Charlottesville. And we’re a work in progress. That is the direction. And whatever the
attendance will be will be a direct
reflection on how much our philosophy and
our success has been embraced to this point. So I’ll just take
it as feedback. And I don’t get
my feelings hurt. It’s just, it gives clear
feedback as to room to grow and ways to continue to
expand and claim those spaces and connect with our fans
through, again, kind of the earned not given philosophy. I think that stadium
and our stadium will be full when we’re playing
football in a manner that allows it to be full. And so we’ll just keep working. A couple depth chart questions
if you don’t mind taking– Sure. Chris Glaser, when
did he make that move? And what was it about
Ryan Nelson’s play that made you think,
hey, that’s a guy we can trust at left tackle? Just time and consistency. The edge has become more
secure day after day after day after day through
the beginning of fall camp, now going into game week. And so you’re always,
especially at the offensive line you’re looking to
have the best five. And that usually
means a player that can play two spots
and sometimes three. Glaser can play center,
he can play guard, and he can play tackle. So if you look at
that two deep and say, man, there’s first years. We’re kind of thin. You could really insert Glaser
at three different positions, which then, that
makes it look better. And so Glaser’s
really versatile. His versatility, we’ve
been able to highlight that because of how Nelson has
played from beginning of camp through to where we are now. And so those two things are
dependent on each other. And really, the exact same
question on the other side. With Hanback moving over to
end, what do you like there? And what did Redmond do to
make you think he was the guy? Well, it’s been out of necessity
because Burney and Mandy Alonso have not been practicing
and have not been healthy. And as we continue
then to look at, OK, what first years and what
might be our best combination? It became apparent that
Jordan Redmond at nose tackle was a little bit farther
along than possibly other first years. And so now looking
at who might and what allows us to have our
best 3D line on the field. Just like o-line, what
gives us our best five on the field at the same time? Redmond’s ability to play nose
and Eli’s ability to play end now gives us more depth with
the same number of bodies. Last year, your field goal
game was not very productive. What kind of competition did
you have with this group? The competition is ongoing. One of the bright
spots through camp, earlier than what has
happened recently I would say, AJ Mejia has started
exceptionally well through camp. First two and a half
weeks especially, the sound of the ball
coming off his foot, it made our whole coaching
staff and team stop. And it sounds different and it
was going through the uprights more consistently and
from farther away. So I would say what I’ve seen
so far in practice settings is the field goal range
has been expanded and the consistency
has increased. And so those are good things. Now what’s happening with
Hunter Pearson returning to full health, which
is, we’re almost there. They’re starting to be now the
possibility of a longer range kicker and a shorter
range kicker. Hunter Pearson’s range
is longer than AJs, and AJ is more consistent
from a little bit closer. So there is a reality
now of a Mejia range and then possibly
another range that, based on how much data we can
keep getting in on consistency and percentages, that will
determine whether we’re going for it in this range
of the field or Pearson comes out to take a shot. And I haven’t decided
that yet, but that could be a possibility. We’ve all heard and seen
a little bit of how Bryce can kill you with his legs. How has he developed as a
passer over the past year? And how much better
do you think he is now than he was when you got him? Yeah, I’m hesitant
in practice just to make definitive statements. But that’s the area that
he has improved most. It’s the area that our
team has improved most since Bryce arrived, where
the majority of the ball being moved early on in
Bryce’s career with us through spring and early fall
was happening with his ability to run. More balance is coming
daily with his ability to throw the football, and
that’s the catch and protect. And so we’re a lot harder to
defend when you can do both. And so I would say that we’re
making significant strides in that area. And so in direct answer
to the question of, where have we grown most? His decision making and accuracy
in throwing the football is probably where the
biggest gains have been made. Bronco, when we met with
Carla one of the things she talked about was making
a real concerted effort to bring football alumni
back to the program. Most of those guys
aren’t your guys. What’s the impact been of that? How much has there
been an uptick in that? And how much has the team
maybe benefited from that? I think there’s been
a significant uptick because there’s been a
significant emphasis uptick. And Carla has done a
really nice job with that. And I think that the
players might take offense to saying they’re not my guys. I would say they’re our guys. But I do understand
what you’re saying because I wasn’t their coach. The ones that have
interest in coming back, though, it’s been fun
because they consider this their program. I’m currently the steward over
the program and of the program. I really want it to be
something that they’re proud of and support and
love the results. And I’d love to run
it in that way that matters to me, that they’re
proud of what we’re doing and like what we’re doing. And I would say the overwhelming
majority that have come back have shared that. But they’re coming back
because they are UVA. And I’m appreciative of that. Our team is appreciative of it. And in a team meeting
this morning, in fact, I believe the number was–
as part of our team meeting there were 22 former UVA players
that were Super Bowl champions. And there’s been some very
special people on the field. And man, there have been some
amazing people off the field in terms of what
they’ve accomplished. And that, in essence,
is what UVA football is. I want the success on
the field desperately. I also want those successes
off the field in quality lives, too. And so the players that are
coming back, they see that. And it resonates and
they’re aligned with that. And I think that helps
make us each other’s guy, even though I didn’t coach them. This is a little off the beaten
path, but in Northern Virginia we’ve seen a few high schools
cancel their football season. In New Jersey a few high schools
have canceled their football season because of
lack of interest. They didn’t have the
numbers turning out. As a person who’s working
in football, obviously passionate about the sport,
does that concern you? And what can you
do to impact that? Sure, it concerns me. In this perspective,
I think my opinion is that football is an
amazing vehicle and platform to develop young people. Other than that,
it’s just a game. And I’m not interested
in it being just a game. But it saddens me that
a platform or a vehicle to develop people is
not being supported. And I think what has to happen
from my standpoint, as well as other college coaches, is to
make a clear emphasis that that matters. Yes, winning is important. There is a strong
business element, and entertainment element. That’s where the business– I mean, viewership is
driving college football. I stand on a very
different side of that. Acknowledging the
reality of that, my primary purpose
is develop people so they can have amazing lives. And when football goes away
anywhere, that saddens me. And I would like,
if it goes away, I’d like the community or
possibly the administration to have to acknowledge by
what they see in other coaches and programs that,
wait are we really going to let this happen at
the expense of development? And I think possibly the
perspective is results only. And I certainly think that
some of the safety issues are contributing,
or have contributed. And so I think there’s
an interplay there. And I think effective
coaching and quality coaching is the development
of people, looking after the welfare and
safety of student athletes, and getting results. And I don’t see enough emphasis
on all of that being presented. And I think you
probably don’t either, just if you look at what’s
written about our business. And so I would love this program
to be one that clearly shows that development, safety,
welfare, and results can happen at the same time. Coach Jerry was referencing
Bryce’s ability to run. When you think about guys like
Tavares Kelly, Billy Kemp, Olamide Zaccheaus, Bryce now,
even on the defensive side of things with Juan
and Darius Bratton, you’ve seen very
successful football. And team speed is
typically an emphasis. How pleased are you with where
your team speed is right now? We are establishing
depth and speed. And so some of the
players that you just mentioned, in Tavares
and in Billy Kemp, and now in Bryce
coming at quarterback, those are all new
players to the program. And there are others as well. And so is just reflective
of possibly inroads being made to address
depth in this program. And it’s become more visible in
the secondary and at receiver. And skill, that is
accelerating faster than our depth in the lines. And so even though they’ll
be first years listed on o-line and d-line, most
likely you’ll see impact. The impact that we’ll
see will probably be through the speed
rather than the trenches even though they’ll be first
years playing in both places. Coach, both you
guys and Richmond are transitioning from
over pro-style offense to an RPO based offense. As much as they can given
the disparity in scholarship players, does that
kind of even the field a little bit on Saturday? Yeah. So I’ve coached against a number
of FCS programs in my career, and coached at Northern
Arizona myself. And we never felt,
when I was coaching at Northern Arizona
in the FCS level, we really never felt much
difference between ones. It was just the depth. And when you play a first
game, especially, anyone is especially vulnerable. And there’s always
uncertainty because there’s new teams, certainly new schemes
and adjustments that have been made in the off season. And you’re never certain. And the amount of
end-game coaching, especially in game one,
that’s part of game one. And so I think
possibly that’s why. And I haven’t done
the research on this. You could follow up. It seems to me like
games one and two, there’s maybe more
upset-ish type of games. And a game that happens
to say, holy cow, did you hear about
so-and-so beat? That shouldn’t happen. The simple uncertainties
that come with game one and game two I
think add to that. You mentioned that depth. You’ve been where
Coach Huisman is. I believe he only has 84
players on the roster. What additional challenges
does that provide? That’s practice for a long
season, especially when you’re a relatively consistent
playoff team. Man, it’s where the
redshirt rule really helps now in terms of
adding to your roster. But more games with the
same number of players, or more games with
even fewer numbers, practice becomes really
difficult. And then you end up having to choose, do you
become more NFL model-ish where you’re serving each other? And that’s fine, just
the number of practice reps you get is lessened
because you’re still under time requirements. So, yeah, unique tradeoffs,
but the quality of football that’s being played is
still very, very good. So a lot of innovations that
happen with reduced numbers is some of the best coaching
I think that there is. Given that you were talking
about the new redshirt rule, you have these two
backup quarterbacks who theoretically could
really still play and take advantage of that. Is there one of them,
Lindell or Brennan, that you feel like you want
to see in this opportunity? Man, I think that’s
a fair question. There’s all kinds of scenarios. I hope we don’t get to see
our backup quarterbacks much. And I know that there’s a
developmental part that I sacrificed because of that. But because Bryce is
a transfer, every rep counts for him and he
needs every one he can get. And so you will
probably see us– and it’s a delicate balance. And if you put us
in the context, let’s say we have
a comfortable lead. Again, every rep is still
helpful for him in the game context to develop our team,
then there’s risk of injury. If he does get hurt
then, yeah, you need to develop a backup
soon enough and capably. And so we’re still,
and I’m still, erring on the side of
Bryce’s development because it’s a new
quarterback and it’s game one with a long season to go. In terms of backups,
we’re going to be slower than quicker to insert
is where we are at this point. Take our last two questions
from Hank and Jerry. Do you find yourself
in practice watching Bryce on some of these
runs, just, mind boggling kind of stuff that you can’t
contain your own excitement? Well you know I’m
an excitable guy. So there might be a corner
of my mouth that comes up. It’s just fun to watch
an amazing athlete. There will be comparisons
made, but there’s just– the athleticism, the change
of direction, and how dynamic. It’s just, it’s pretty
special to be able to see, especially when it
comes in the packaging a good player and a good person. That makes it better. And so that’s what makes maybe
both corners of my mouth go up. The long run might
make one corner go up, but then when I think about who
he is it might be both corners. Bronco, based on what you just
said about backup quarterbacks, where are they in terms
of, if something happened– Yeah. –and they had to play,
how much of an about face would that have to
be in how you play? Or are they both capable
of playing and doing what you want Bryce to do? Yeah, Brennan is more aligned
in terms of what Bryce does. And it would require
less change within what we’re doing offensively. Lindell currently is more
polished, more experienced, and farther. But the style of play
would be different. And so we’ve had to
prepare for both. The context of the
game and what’s required, if we’re
playing from behind and possibly need to throw and
catch at a higher level, then probably Lindell If it’s
more, it’s about even and we’re still wanting to
play the same style then it’s probably Brennan. And that’s the simplest way
to describe it right now. OK, thanks. All right, thanks everybody.

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