UVA football coach Bronco Mendenhall on loss at Georgia Tech: Postgame transcript
“Congratulations to Paul Johnson and their football team, it was a hard-fought game. I love my team; they battled like crazy … played very strong and played tough, played right to the end. I thought, defensively, we played very well, holding [Georgia] Tech to field goals for the most part. Ultimately, the storyline was the special teams miscues … the kick return for a touchdown, and the punt that bounced up and hit one of our players, that turnover. Those two plays, I thought, contributed to us not being quite able to pull off this game. Certainly, the safety … those three plays, in terms of clean play and execution, were the difference in the game.
“Offensively, we held the ball and scored. Defensively, we played well and held them to field goals, as well as significantly under their rushing total. So the plan worked well other than the special teams didn’t execute well enough on a few plays to win the game.”
On playing defense first in overtime, being where you want to be…
“It’s exactly how you designed it. The defense, again, for the entire day, I don’t know how much fault you can find. They played very, very well, from start to finish.”
On the punt bouncing off of a player, was that a freak bounce?
“I don’t know whether it was a freak bounce or not. Our punt returner’s primary job is to alert every player that’s covering, or holding up a defensive player, that the kick is short. Then their job is to get away. And so the communication from the returner needed to be more animated and more distinct so the player that was holding up the defender going down to cover could get out of the way quicker.”
On the review, what did the official tell you?
“I wasn’t told anything, other than the play stands. I looked up and saw it, but…”
On the effect of the first-quarter sequence of a safety, the injury to QB Perkins, then the touchdown
“That series where there’s a safety, a quarterback injury and a kick return for a touchdown … that would have broken the will of many teams, and it didn’t seem to faze our guys. Nor did the whole scenario, going all the way to overtime. Yeah, we didn’t kick the ball through the uprights at the end … that’s what everyone will see, but the team played really well. We just didn’t quite play clean enough to win.”
On the third-and-1 try to the end zone at the end of regulation
“We thought we had just one opportunity, and we thought we might catch them sleeping.”
On the play of QB Brennan Armstrong
“It was awesome. I mean, it seems like each time he goes in, there’s something electric that happens. He’s a really good player, but he has a presence that … we see it every day defensively. He has a presence where he thinks he can move the ball against anyone, no matter the circumstance, and he’s probably right.”
Any serious consideration to ride with Armstrong and not go back to Perkins?
“Nope. Our quarterback is Bryce Perkins, and if he was healthy and able to play, then we were going to play him. And he was healthy enough to lead our team, and he did, and he gave us a great chance to win.”
On the location on the right hash for the field goal try in overtime, confident or not?
“It never even crossed my mind. I thought we’d be great.”