Bryce Perkins: Two INTs, knee brace, ‘Bryce plays’

Bryce PerkinsBryce Perkins threw two interceptions last week in UVA’s 52-17 win over William & Mary.

Does Bronco Mendenhall have reason to worry?

The coach doesn’t seem think so.

“I believe facts are our friends, and I love statistics. I think he had the longest streak in the country of not throwing an interception, so if that’s the case, I think you would view it is an aberration rather than something I’m worried about,” Mendenhall told reporters at his weekly presser on Monday.

The INTs were bad, though. The first came as the ‘Hoos were in the red zone. On a third-and-1, Perkins scrambled left, then threw across his body, late and over the middle, in the direction of Hasise Dubois at the W&M 10.

The second INT, in the third quarter, was on a rollout to the right, but it was still late and over the middle.

There was at least one other pass that could have been picked, a ball thrown into triple coverage in the end zone in the direction of Terrell Chatman.

Mendenhall allowed that the settings were consistent: “scrambling and forcing throws and trying to do more than what the play allowed.”

That said: “I’ll rely on the 140-something attempts he had before those than just the last couple,” Mendenhall said.

The coach answered another question about whether Perkins is 100 percent physically. He played Friday night with a knee brace, and Mendenhall confirmed … something.

“I think you just said it. Where he is physically, is he has a brace on his knee, and he’s not quite 100%. I don’t know how to say it any better than that,” Mendenhall said, or rather, it seemed he said something meaningful.

Probably not.

A quick look at the statistics through two games would suggest that Perkins is at least close to being 100 percent.

Perkins is averaging 4.5 yards per rushing attempt, actually a tick up from the 4.4 yards per attempt he averaged in 2018.

Usage is about even: 30 pass attempts per game, up from 26.8 per game in 2018, and 12.5 runs per game, down from 16.3 per game in 2018.

In any case, he’s not under wraps from a physical standpoint.

“It’s part of our design for him regardless of opponent, and we think that it’s essential that he does run, not only in designed runs, but creative and scramble runs, to have us be successful as a team,” Mendenhall said. “That’s one of the things that makes him and us difficult to stop when that’s going well. So, there are traditional runs and passes and traditional plays, and then there is just Bryce. I’m for just Bryce plays.”

More on that point:

“I’m not working to limit those and really not working to limit the exposure. When he’s promoted and encouraged to when he sees to do and not overanalyze, look through his progression, and if he sees something, then to take it. I want him to be confident, I want him to be assertive, and I want him to be fast thinking and aggressive. Part of that is through plays that maybe are off script. From the defensive side, that is really hard to handle. There is no design to stop that. If you do design for it, it takes away from something else.

“Yeah, I encourage it, and I’m just philosophically okay with living with the risk knowing what it’s like to try to defend it. I would say in comparison, the best one — I think Lamar Jackson, when he was at Louisville, man, there were times he was getting sacked so much, but then he would pull it down and run and score on a 50-yard play. Just very difficult to scheme, to manage, and to stop.”

Story by Chris Graham

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