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Definition of a trap game: UVA Football tries to put focus on Liberty

uva footballAnything other than an acknowledgement from those in the UVA Football program of the Black Friday game with Virginia Tech and the stakes therein is spin.

Sorry, but the talk in Central Virginia since the first of the year has been that the 2019 season should include a trip to Charlotte in December for the ACC Championship Game, and that’s in the crosshairs, with something in the way.

That something: Liberty, on Saturday.

Credit to Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall for not pretending the elephant isn’t in the room.

“I think it’s hard when there’s a game of that significance with the implications that it has, meaning that it is a rivalry game and it is potentially for the Coastal Division championship,” Mendenhall told reporters on Monday.

There was more to that particular sentence.

“Until you watch Liberty on film, and that’s just a quick reality check,” Mendenhall said. “Much like a year ago, when they could score at such an efficient and effective level, and I would say that’s continued to even an improved standard with an improved football team.

“So, once that happens and you get into the Liberty work specifically, the rest, there’s no time for it, and it’s just interference because of the quality of opponent.”

Granted, this isn’t Lou Holtz from his Notre Dame days making this weekend’s game with Sisters of Mercy U. into something big because Lou Holtz.

Liberty did play UVA well last November, trailing 24-17 at the half, and hanging around into the fourth quarter of what turned into a 45-24 ‘Hoos win.

Liberty can throw the ball, and with Virginia’s secondary banged up, this weekend has the makings of what you’d call a trap game.

No disrespect to Liberty at all with that being the case.

It will just be hard for Virginia to not think about what is to come, especially coming off a bye week, with all the free time that comes with a bye week, to, you know, think about stuff, like …

“It’s just been an honor to be here for this program, coming from where it was when I came in, all the way to now. Not a lot of guys have been able to see their words come into fruition. To still be here, to see us reap the rewards of our labor, it really means a lot,” senior linebacker Jordan Mack said at Monday’s presser.

Oh, geez.

“We’ve got goals that teams here haven’t done. Winning eight games – how many teams have won eight games, how many teams have won nine games, how many teams have won 10 games? No team here has won 11 games,” senior quarterback Bryce Perkins said.

To his credit, the next words out of Perkins’ mouth were:

“It starts with Liberty. We’ve got to knock off Liberty before we can talk about anything else. I’m excited, we’re excited. The guys are excited to get out there this Saturday and just keep the ball rolling.”

OK, so, there we go. It’s not just about beating Virginia Tech for the first time since the advent of social media, and getting Virginia Football to its first-ever ACC Championship Game.

There are bigger goals in mind that include getting a W over a good Liberty team.

That’s where the focus is.

“We’re putting a big emphasis on, we’re playing Liberty this week, and that’s our only focus,” senior defensive tackle Eli Hanback said. “And that needs to be the only focus right now. Where we’re at now, the position we’re at, the opportunities that we have ahead of us, is very exciting for the future of this program. It’s very exciting for myself and for the guys who are here for their last year. We have an opportunity to do something great here at UVA that will kickstart the program into the future.”

Story by Chris Graham