UConn Postgame: UVA football coach Bronco Mendenhall

UVA football coach Bronco Mendenhall talks to the media after the Cavs’ 38-18 win over UConn.

Opening statement
“I was encouraged by the win today. I was encouraged by the way our team played for the majority of the game. I think our quarterback had a very strong day, not only in accuracy and completion percentage, but on the downfield throws which we had talked about from a week ago. Offensive front played their most complete game in terms of protection and targeting that allowed a more successful ground game and probably the most complete game offensively, at least in our short time here at UVA. I think the team played better today than it played last week and I think last week the team played better than the week before. So we are still improving, there are areas to address, however, the momentum that it generates and the start to the season is always helpful. So as we go forward, significant step forward offensively. I think defensively they played really well in critical moments for about three quarters and then really had to learn what it’s like to play when you’re that far ahead in terms of mindset and when there are some substitutions, things like that. So special teams wise, man hard to remember, other than the long kick return that worked its way in there somewhere. I don’t remember much else in terms of making comment there, which probably means it was fairly steady. So, I’ll take questions.”

On Olamide Zaccheaus’ performance
“Yeah, probably the closest we’ve come yet to putting him in the right places and doing the things he is capable of so far in our tenure here at UVA. He’s versatile and he is becoming reliable and there’s a lot of different things he can do. Seems like we’re just starting to add some consistency and production to that, which is going to be helpful to us.”

On offensive performance
“Anytime the defense, if there is a matchup in our favor and they became more aggressive in playing man and man free coverage and when that happens you just simply look at the matchups and some of those were in our favor. It’s one thing to recognize the matchups and it’s another thing to execute and put the ball where it needs to be, which Kurt Benkert did. And so, again, our offense was multiple, it was hard to defend and pretty complete and so eventually we just became better at identifying where the matchups where and Kurt and the receivers took advantage of that.”

On Kurt Benkert’s performance
“I saw a similar week of practice as to what I’ve seen for really throughout his time this season and through spring practice and through fall camp. I think all that’s happening is there’s just certain thresholds that are hit through cumulative repetition at the right standard and then sometimes that breaks through versus an opponent. And then there could be another area that needs to be diagnosed and improved on, but his best game I believe today, but he’s consistent in practice. There wasn’t anything going into the week or through the week that was like ‘oh wait till we see him play Saturday,’ it was just a normal week for him.”

On key defensive fourth down stops
“One of the things we targeted from a week ago was, if there happens to be a short field defensively, then play well. And we did that right from the beginning, as well as the fourth down stops, as well as the 2-point conversion stops. There might have been three of those, or two, I don’t know how many. So critical moment play was pretty strong defensively, lacked consistency in the 4th quarter especially.”

On offensive line play
“They just seemed to be a little bit more consistent, a little bit more cohesive and a little bit more productive. And so we started to see that at the end of last week and I think it just continued on this week. So, I think it’s been a good step forward so far.”

On the team’s confidence
“Confidence is earned. We work really hard in practice; we work really hard in our meetings, the program works really hard year round. And just to emphasize, we are still at the beginning of this process and we are still at the beginning of this program. But, it is so much fun for me to see the people in the program see the results on the field and be able to enjoy that.”

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