Mendenhall: ‘Hoos looking forward to challenging 2020 football schedule

uva footballVirginia football fans have been hemming and hawing over the tough schedule handed their favorite team by the ACC.

The football team had a different response.

“My team cheered when I announced the schedule,” coach Bronco Mendenhall said on Friday.

The ‘Hoos open with in-state FCS opponent VMI on Friday, Sept. 11, then start ACC play at archrival Virginia Tech on Saturday, Sept. 19.

That’s a game that normally ends the regular season for the two Commonwealth Clash foes.

Mendenhall, for one, is happy to see the Tech game early into the 2020 schedule.

“You know, playing the Virginia Tech game that early, I think maybe gives a sense of hope and optimism to our state, to the Commonwealth, and maybe to college football,” Mendenhall said. “If there is to be a season, and we are going to play it, having some of those games early on, I think, was intentional to maybe add some momentum to the season.”

The rest of the schedule is ridiculous. The defending ACC Coastal Division champ goes on the road to preseason #1 Clemson on Oct. 3, and also has road dates at Miami (Oct. 24) and Florida State (Nov. 28), with the preseason pick to win the Coastal, North Carolina, coming to Charlottesville on Oct. 31.

“It’ll be one of the most challenging schedules that I’ve ever had the chance to take on as a head coach, with the quality of opponents week in and week out from beginning to end. And then you add the unique set of circumstances worldwide that we’re dealing with the same time, but with an amazing group of young people that I truly love and care about,” Mendenhall said.

The league is going with a one-division, 10-game schedule for 2020, so the Coastal title won’t be on the line this fall.

The top two teams by winning percentage will fight it out for the ACC championship in Charlotte in December.

That’s a long way off, of course.

The celebration for now is that there are dates set on a calendar.

It’s 2020. We take what we can get in terms of something to be happy about.

“When they saw the dates, when they saw the opponents, they said that just made the bubble easier,” Mendenhall said. “Life in the bubble is mundane, it’s monotonous, they’re doing a lot of the same things. They’re masking, they’re social distancing, they’re quarantining, they’re staying inside. And like all of us, they’re wrestling and struggling with that. To have some something solid, some dates that are actually in front of them to shoot for, has been helpful.”

“Every chance I have to be with my team is a good, good moment, a good day, and is the highlight of each day, other than being with my family,” Mendenhall said. “I love these guys, and their commitment and their resiliency, and their leadership, their culture, their camaraderie. They’re just so much fun to be with. I’m just glad I’m able to spend more time with them.”

Story by Chris Graham

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