Bronco: ‘We played better defense than we did last week’

bronco mendenhall
Bronco Mendenhall. Photo courtesy UVA Athletics.

Wake Forest scored on its first seven possessions, didn’t punt until the fourth quarter. And Bronco Mendenhall sees that as improvement.

“I actually thought we played better defense than we did last week,” said Mendenhall, after the Demon Deacons gashed his defense for 473 yards in a 37-17 victory.

“I thought we were more consistent, and I thought we were more executionally sound. I thought we had more positive plays when I was looking out there, from beginning to end. But still, mistakes at critical times.”

I’m not sure what game Mendenhall was watching to come away from it thinking that the terms “consistent” and “executionally sound” should apply to how his defensive unit performed.

Wake didn’t do anything all that schematically exceptional – lots of runs up the A and B gaps, then, when Virginia tried to adjust by bringing safeties closer to the line of scrimmage to take away the run, Wake took to the air against the soft zones that UVA employed.

As has been the case a lot the past couple of seasons, the big play reared its head – a 39-yard TD pass on Wake’s first offensive possession, plus completions of 44, 31 and 29, then a 63-yard run by Justice Ellison basically right over the nose tackle.

Sam Hartman was 17-of-29 for 270 yards and three TDs through the air. Wake ran for 203 yards on 45 plays on the ground.

UVA got almost no pressure on Hartman – no sacks, just two QB hurries on 33 dropbacks.

Most frustrating: as the offense, behind Brennan Armstrong, who threw for 407 yards and two touchdowns, twice got the team within 10 points in the third quarter, the defense couldn’t keep Wake Forest out of the end zone.

“We had chances all the way through middle and third quarter, where I still felt we had a great chance to possibly regain momentum and execute our way in, but we didn’t through inconsistencies,” Mendenhall said. “They executed their plan really well, and as they have for quite a while. It reflects a well-disciplined and a really sharp team that really made the critical plays.”

It also reflects a poorly disciplined and not-so-sharp team that couldn’t make the critical plays.

Consistent and executionally sound, though.

Puh-leeze.

Story by Chris Graham


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