Postgame: UVA football coach Bronco Mendenhall on win over Liberty

bronco mendenhallOpening Statement

“I’m really excited for our seniors. So pleased that they were able to win at home on their last appearance at Scott Stadium. I think it’s significant that they finished with a winning season. Certainly there’s more emphasis and more games to play, but seven wins is a significant mark for our program, for the University of Virginia, and what we’re accomplishing. They can claim ownership of that. They’ve been instrumental in ensuring that that happened. Throughout the course of the game, I’m certainly excited about the number of points scored. I was happy with the adjustments we made at halftime defensively. I thought those were critical and the turnovers that we created. And after three pretty fierce weeks of work on our kick return, it was great to see [Joe Reed] be able to perform, not just with the kickoff return for a touchdown after halftime, but with the consistency of the returns today. It looked much better.

On integrating Joe Reed in the offense

“It’s just been time and consistency. We try and then we tweak and we recalibrate and remove and then try again and he tries again. It’s just becoming clearer, not only how we have to coach and teach and communicate with [Joe Reed], but what helps him best in practice in terms of volume and circumstance. Much like any student in a teacher-student relationship, eventually you end up finding the right relationship, the right communication style, the right things that work, and so we’re just getting closer. It’s really gratifying to see someone who really tries so hard and is such a great person and great kid to be able to see it happen on the field. When I walked into the lock room, the team was already yelling “Joe Reed, Joe Reed!” It was in unison. There were no other candidates that were voted for breaking the rock today.

On Liberty’s 4th and 1 at own 15

“I actually admired the decision, they came to win the game. And they were having success running the ball, especially early. There was kind of a point in the game where I think they decided that they could run for a first down or that they could get a first down and that might in and of itself kind of shift the momentum and have a psychological effect on our team. I have no issues with the decision. Under all the circumstances, with Liberty coming to UVA to play in our stadium with the game being close, I admired it.

On offensive production

To have a game that allowed us to get another reference point for what we want to be. The ball was spread at a higher level, [Jordan Ellis] had 100 yards, which is much more of what I expect. [Bryce Perkins] then complements him, rather than vice versa, and [Joe Reed] and others then contribute. It’s been a while. So, to have game where we could refocus on that, we already know it’s going to be necessary. Everybody knows it’s going to be necessary in our next two. It’s good to be able to have that manifest today.”

On the impact on the seniors

If you step back for just a second, we were in this room three seasons ago and we were 2-10. Now we’re bowl eligible and now we’re a winning program, and there’s been a lot that’s happened in a pretty short amount of time. And so, for our seniors, I don’t really know how to describe it any better than that they have caused it and I’m so proud of them. I’m so happy for them to see the success come, because we ask a lot. I don’t give them anything they don’t earn and they just keep coming back and working. I’m really happy for them, in a fairly short amount of time, to have a turn of a program that’s happening like it is. They’re the ones who are responsible.

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