Press Conference: UVA football coach Bronco Mendenhall

UVA football coach Bronco Mendenhall talks with the media after the Cavs’ 34-17 loss to Indiana on Saturday.

uva acc kickoff bronco mendenhallOpening statement
“I thought Indiana was more opportunistic in the short fields they had in relation to the short fields we had. In the beginning of the game they were struggling to get across the 50. We didn’t have as many points come out of that as necessary. Then there were moments of the game when it shifted and we were defending short fields and they capitalized at a higher level. I was very disappointed in the punt return. That was a critical moment in the game and they executed that really well. So, their punting game and their taking advantage of short field today was the difference. Our plan and our defense of their starting quarterback was exceptional. They scored 14 points until we adjusted to their next quarterback that came in. But ultimately, the opportunistic nature of field position and scoring was the difference.”

On defensive and offensive effort
“There were a lot of good things done defensively today, but you can’t predict the trajectory when it takes three phases of the game to play complementary football. If one side stops and there is field position added, then the next part of the team has to capitalize on that. That leads to the best way to play complementary football, which then turns into the outcome that we want.”

On the first few offensive drives
“It was a slow start, that was evident. It was also a little bit streaky. There were patches where it looked rhythmic, efficient and poised but it was certainly a slow and inconsistent start. There was some momentum at different stretches, but really just not consistent enough. The run game is still something we are working on. Our efficiency in running the football is shifting pressure to the throw game. Then there was a shift when we were behind, but still within reach. There was nothing to me that caused panic until the punt return. I was anxious, optimistic and ready to keep playing football in terms of being within striking distance.”

On early 3-0 lead
“It’s really just about the opportunistic nature. When Indiana had their chances, they executed cleaner than we did. We had some opportunities slip away and they capitalized on more of theirs. And they created some more, with the punt return in particular.”

On Kurt Benkert’s passing
“I think what’s happening now is that our passing game is taking the place of some more productive runs. We are still discovering where our protection is and working on developing the routes to where we are open enough to have catches downfield. The throw game is taking place of medium to long runs and run game is not productive enough. When we don’t hit passes over the top enough, the defense just keeps sitting on the intermediate routes. Eventually we will make them pay for that and have more opportunities. There were a number of shots today in terms of balls downfield, but we have to connect more on those to have the type of offence and scoring production that we’d like.”

On fourth down touchdown plays
“Kurt Benkert is just becoming more consistent. We had another fourth down where we had a player open and we missed that throw. But, now as we are becoming clearer where we can kick field goals from, that’s allowing us to manage the yardage and the field of play a little bit differently. That was just the beginning of what we intend to do. The mark on the field will kind of move back in forth based on how our field goal kickers are looking. Today it was more ‘go for it.’”

On adjusting to new quarterback Peyton Ramsey
“It was just a change of tempo. They had zero success at running the football, and he [Peyton Ramsey] came in. Quarterback runs take a little bit more of involving your secondary. We played a zone one time and then he scrambled for a touchdown, and so we realized right then that pressure, in addition to coverage, was going to be the answer. Then the number of stats started to go up and he became more ineffective, so I think we adjusted well. We just hadn’t seen him much. With the productivity of their starter against Ohio State, the thought that we had to prepare for number two in the second quarter means that we were playing really good defense.”

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