ACC Football Teleconference Week 1: UVA coach Bronco Mendenhall

uva acc kickoff bronco mendenhallUVA football coach Bronco Mendenhall talks with reporters on the Week 1 ACC Football Teleconference.

THE MODERATOR: We now welcome Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall.

Coach, an opening statement, then we’ll open it up for questions.

BRONCO MENDENHALL: Yeah, great to be with you again for the start of a football season. I think I’d speak on behalf of all the coaches where both the coaches and the players are ready to play football. Practicing against each other becomes monotonous over time. Once there’s a true opponent that’s on the schedule, there’s a different energy and focus that shifts. I think that’s good for everybody. We’re anxious to play our first game.

THE MODERATOR: We’ll take questions at this point.

Q. Can you tell us what you’ve seen on Bryce, what you’re expecting out of him in this opener in leading the offense?
BRONCO MENDENHALL: What I’ve seen to this point is a dynamic athlete who’s explosive and fast, has all the physical tools to really extend plays and to create what I’m hoping to see and what we expect over time is the proficiency of playing the position of quarterback with the execution and the mastery of that position as well as the leadership that comes with leading a football team.

The progress goes from athlete to quarterback to leader, then hopefully the team will have the success that we all hope will be a result from that.

Q. Did you see the team work any differently this off-season after coming off a bowl appearance, that game ending not the way anybody wanted it to?
BRONCO MENDENHALL: Sure. There is increased urgency and optimism. The team has a clearer idea now of what post-season looks like, after not having been to a post-season game. They also know the difference and discrepancy between how we played and prepared versus our opponent. There was a bittersweet feeling where they see progress being made, but they also know there’s lots of room to improve, which is the ideal way you’d like to go into an off-season.

I would say unsatisfied and craving more is where our team is and how they performed through the off-season.

Q. Convention would suggest you would have your more seasoned offensive line perhaps on the left side protecting Bryce’s blindside. Does his mobility throw that equation out the window? Are Marcus and Jake more comfortable on the right side?
BRONCO MENDENHALL: More of the first explanation. With mobility, the chance to extend plays, really non-traditional in terms of dropback passing, some of those things that might be more conventional and traditional don’t have the same impact. At least we don’t think so and not at this point.

We might change our mind over time. We think the mobility and non-traditional nature of what we’re doing kind of mitigates that.

Q. You tend to take a global perspective on things. Wondering whether you believe that just with all the controversy of the off-season swirling in college football, do you think the game’s image overall has taken a hit and is there anything to do to remedy it?
BRONCO MENDENHALL: I would certainly say it’s certainly taken a hit. I would say it’s not just the last couple months, but maybe autonomy era, however long that’s been. I think with the increased visibility of college football in particular, I think with the increased monetary values and exposure, the commercialization that comes with that, a shift more towards entertainment, I think with that has come some of the conduct and some of the tabloid-ish type of issues, but also some of the scrutiny that accompanies entertainment.

I think there will be a tipping point at some point. I think there will be a point where there will be a significant shift back to college athletes and student-athletes and amateur sport, the development of young people through a game.

I think the best thing that any of us can do as coaches is really work as hard as we can to run programs that exemplify that to provide an alternative narrative to the sensationalism and exaggeration, but also some of the conduct that warrants it, to add a more steadying factor. This is college football, maybe not what some of the headlines are. There might be more of the alternative than what’s being presented.

Yeah, I think it has taken a hit. I think there are many of us as coaches that are working as hard as we can to make sure there is an alternative viewpoint of the development of young people through sport, and it’s not just ratings and television and fame and fortune. At some point I think all of college football will hopefully move more generally toward that direction.

Q. On the offense, I remember when you started, you had an assistant coach standing over the ball with a stopwatch trying to push the pace and the tempo. With what you’re doing with Bryce, are you faster than what you ended up last year? Is the goal still eventually to get to that kind of a pace?
BRONCO MENDENHALL: That’s a really good question. We are faster than we were a year ago. Ultimately, and my ideal in terms of roster, depth and tempo, it would be back to that point. I don’t see that in the short-term or near future based on where we currently are. That is something I would love to get back to.

In answer to your question, we’re faster than a year ago. We won’t be as fast as what you initially saw. But progressionally and overtime, I would like to become that.

Q. When you recruited Ryan Nelson, what kind of food did you eat in his parents’ house? They’re both known for their cooking.
BRONCO MENDENHALL: Yeah, man, Ryan Nelson all the way out in California, so Coach Tuja had an existing relationship with Ryan Nelson from our days at Brigham Young. It became kind of a coveted recruiting trip of all staff members when we knew there was going to be a trip to Ryan’s house. The hands were shooting up, Man, I think I could help. They all started lobbying for the specific reasons why they could make an influence.

The number of meals we had and the quality of meals we had, it was awesome. I think rather than narrow in on an exact meal, it was just simply the diversity and everyone coming back with what they had. Those stories were epic. Then it became who wanted to go next time. It became hard to manage as a head coach, so many guys trying to get back there.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

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