Bronco Mendenhall: ‘That game has to be won by Virginia’

Bronco MendenhallLooking back, it can be argued that UVA coach Bronco Mendenhall put way too much pressure on his team with respect to the Virginia Tech game last year.

It was clear that there were more than a few tight sphincters out there in the first half, which saw the four-win Hokies open up a 14-0 lead on the seven-win ‘Hoos.

Virginia scored 31 points in the second half, and had the game in its hands numerous times late, but lost in overtime, 34-31, in a game that should have never been that close.

Mendenhall addressed the loss this week at the ACC Kickoff, and seems like he is doubling down on the “Beat Tech” focus for his team in 2019.

“The approach is similar. That doesn’t mean the goal has changed. The brutal fact is, that game has to be won by Virginia, has to be won sooner rather than later,” said Mendenhall, who in 2018 led UVA to an 8-5 record and the program’s first bowl win since 2005.

Virginia hasn’t beaten its rivals from Blacksburg since 2003.

If any year was going to be the year, it was last year. Tech lost by two touchdowns at ODU in September, and had to scramble to find an opponent for a makeup game the week after the scheduled regular-season finale to keep its lengthy bowl streak alive.

It didn’t matter: the Hokies lost to Cincinnati in the Military Bowl to finish 6-7, the program’s first losing season since 1992.

The losing streak, meanwhile, stands at 15.

How long ago that was: Facebook didn’t exist yet. Neither did Twitter or YouTube.

“The Apprentice” hadn’t yet debuted.

“For our program to be healthy, and to reach its potential, not only on the Coastal side, but for the future of the program, we have to continue to make the changes and improvements necessary in all facets of the program to win that game. So, really, the emphasis is going to remain the same,” Mendenhall said.

“I think we’ve closed the gap,” Mendenhall went on, then corrected himself. “Put it this way, we’re closing the gap. I can’t say closed, because closed would mean that we’ve won the game. But in the three years that I’ve been the coach at Virginia, I think we’re getting closer each year. Number one, to understanding what it will take to win the game, applying the strategy to allow us to, but we’ve yet to master that to actually pull it off.

“We are making improvements, and I would say, probably, that improvements in relation to winning that game are improvements that will show in the program at large, in each of the successive years, from year 1 to year 2 to year 3, with still plenty of room to grow.”

Story by Chris Graham



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