UVA Football: Bronco Mendenhall breaks down 48-14 win over Duke

Bronco MendenhallOpening statement
“First I’d like to acknowledge Coach Cutcliffe’s idea of honoring 150 years of college football. That happened in ACC meetings this summer, and we’ve become friends, and it was his idea and his prompting to celebrate how fortunate we feel to coach this game. We work really hard as AFCA Trustee Board members to try and improve it in every way possible and to continue to have the young people in the game reflected in the highest manner. I feel lucky that he and our relationship allowed me to participate or be included in that idea. As you already know, I think Coach Cutcliffe is an excellent coach but even more important, an amazing person. Having said that, I didn’t anticipate the game going as it did because rarely do they turn the ball over. Rarely does pressure affect them the way that it did, and uncharacteristically, the number of turnovers and the field position and just the way the game went in general wasn’t the way Duke has played football to this point. I credit our defensive staff especially for the number of turnovers…Simply the field position and the number of opportunities we had was too great for our opponent to overcome and those were all executed well by us. I don’t think it was luck and I don’t think it was random.”

On defensive game plan
“There wasn’t anything [different this week]. Actually it was simplified. Our identity was just determined faster. We’ve played enough different styles of teams, we have enough film and data on our existing team to know which players are producing, which schemes are producing against what formations and what sets and matches up versus Duke. We were just ahead in identifying what they did, what we did and what was going to match. It just seemed like we were clearer earlier this week as to what was going to be our best chance to have success.”

On if he was curious coming into the game how the blue zone offense would look and if the defense would be able to replace Bryce Hall
“Maybe twice in my career I’ve told my wife ‘I think we’re going to win this week’ or ‘I like how it looks.’ Most of the time I don’t know. I didn’t know today. I thought we’d have a great chance to win. I thought it would be a hard fought game. I thought it would come down to the last possession…The answer is: No, I didn’t see it coming. Yes, I did see improvement, but I didn’t know it would manifest like it did.”

On what he liked in practice this week
“The urgency is what I liked. We felt like we let a game slip away from us a week ago and man that hurts. We have a lot of goals that we are after, not only for this season, but for the future of the program. Our team expects to win. They’re not surprised when they do and they’re actually mad when they don’t now. That’s a completely different place than where this program was. I’m not saying we’ve arrived. But the mindset has shifted to where they expect to win and they want to win and they know when they make mistakes…that bothers them. The urgency of their preparation was clear.”

On criticism of the offensive line
“We certainly challenged them and they had something to prove, but I pay zero attention to any outside interference. I know exactly who our players are. I know exactly what they have to do to improve. I know exactly what my coaches are capable of. It’s why I brought 14 of them with me. We’re making progress and improving the program not accidentally, but intentionally, and there will always be criticism through a transparent business that is so volatile.”



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