FOOTBALL: Media Availability – 8/28

FOOTBALL: Media Availability – 8/28

Feels like I’ve been here
longer than one season. Lots of work has been
done, and lots more to go. I’ve made comments in the
past or in the recent months that I’m both optimistic
and realistic. We’re really excited about
what can be accomplished here in our football program and what
I believe will be accomplished, but I’m also realistic about
the amount of work and the time frame that that might take. So we are steadily
improving step by step, sometimes inch by
inch, second by second, working on consistency
and maturity and identity in all phases of
our players’ lives to generate what
will hopefully lead to a stable, high-performing
football program over time. I’m invigorated by the work. There hasn’t been an easy day,
but that’s exactly why I came. I’m thankful for the
players that I have, how hard they’re working. I’m anxious for them
to have a success and want that more
than anything. I also know that has to
be earned on the field. And so there’s a lot
of progress happening behind the scenes
within our culture, within our identity and the
direction of the program, and at some point that will
manifest on the field of play. And when those two
things come together, then that will move us to a
different stage of our program. I’m looking forward
to our opening game, and I’ll take questions. I do know, and I can measure
intuitively behind the scenes just as to what I sense
is progress happening, whether the outside world
will see that by how we play football in week one. I’m not sure if that won’t
take away the simple successes that I’m seeing
behind the scenes or what I see at practice. And in terms of how you
play, especially in week one, there’s always surprises, no
matter how much preparation. There could be
personnel surprises, and someone might perform at a
higher level or a lower level than expected. There could be depth
surprises, where some positions you
think you’re going to be deep in an
injury or two and all of a sudden you’re not so deep. There possibly might be
chemistry and confidence issues that you see that don’t
manifest until you actually play a game or different
settings within a game. So I think that’s why game one
there’s so much anticipation and so much value is simply
because the feedback you get actually adds probably
the most clear reference point that you’re starting
from for that year. And up until then, until
you play as many scrimmages as you do in live work
against each other, I would love to say that I’ve
been able to determine that and we’ve played more
football against each other than any camp that
I’ve been part of. Still, with that,
there’s question marks. We just try to eliminate
as many as possible while we’re accelerating
the growth of our program. We need consistency up front. We need consistency at
the quarterback position. Those two things are
really what usually drive a team in a
program, and I think we’re deeper at offensive
line than we were a year ago. What that performance is
going to look like yet, we don’t know. We’ll find out, and that
will really determine where we go from there. I have been impressed with
Kurt, his consistency, his conditioning,
his leadership. And so I really like
what I’ve seen there. So that combination– I
think you can’t separate one without the other. They go together. And we’ll get an
idea soon enough what that combination looks like. The defensive group
is more mature. They are more consistent. They are more experienced. From practice to practice, I
don’t see many way ups and way downs, many highs and lows. I see just consistent work. The mindset is developing,
the execution is developing, and they are becoming a group
that I really like to coach. And I think the
yield will show that. It will really be up to
them and me as to when. It’s still going to
take a lot of work. There is a who’s
together movement that’s been initiated by
the athletic department and the head coaches. A lot of us have done
things already independent of each other. It wasn’t coordinated. Our team, as you know, took a
picture in front of the rotunda with our players supportive
of arms linked and showing diversity and unity at the same
time, which our simple message is you can do both. And we like both. And this is a place where we
think that should be emulated. I’m talking about
Charlottesville. And our program wants to
be an example of that. We look like a completely
different football team. We know our assignments. We look like we’re
playing a lot faster. We actually know
what we’re doing, and we’re making
a lot more plays. So maybe it would be a lot
more violent out there as well on the defensive
side, and the offense would make a lot more plays. Of course, coming off the
season we just had last year, we’re just excited
to get going again and get that bad taste
out of our mouths. So we’re very excited to
hit that field on Saturday. We’re just going to go out
there and play football like we’re supposed to do. And I feel like it’s a
great opportunity for us to rally the community together
based on our performance. Kurt definitely can
throw the ball further than anybody I’ve
ever played with. And for a guy like me who
likes to stretch the field– that’s one of the attributes
I bring to our offense– that definitely helps us out. And this spring, and a lot even
more so in this summer training camp, we’ve been able
to effectively do that. So I’m excited to bring
that to Saturdays, and we are just looking
forward to being able to connect the way that
we have throughout camp, throughout the season. I think we’re a completely
different offense. We do a really
good job right now of getting everyone the
ball, playing to each of our players’ strengths. And I’m excited for
everybody to see all the work that the coaching staff
and Coach [INAUDIBLE] has been doing for us. Having seven home games
in the season and three to start the year, I think
it’s a really good opportunity for us to start
fast and to really gain momentum and get the
crowd and get the people of Charlottesville behind us. We have everyone’s expectations
in the locker room, but for the outside, they
just expect us to win games.

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