UVA’s Mendenhall describes what it takes to practice through COVID-19

bronco mendenhall
UVA football coach Bronco Mendenhall. Photo courtesy UVA Athletics.

Will there be a college football season in the fall? Maybe, maybe not. It won’t be for lack of trying, from what UVA coach Bronco Mendenhall described to reporters on Monday.

We can’t cover practices right now, for obvious reasons, so what we get is photos and Mendenhall telling us what we’re seeing in them.

The coaches are masked; the players either in full face visors, or a hybrid visor with a cloth mask over the face mask.

The simple protocol before each play: a play isn’t run until everyone is properly spaced.

“The players put their arms out. If they touch anyone, I don’t run the play until they’re spaced,” said Mendenhall, who from his telling sounds like he’s assigned himself the role of COVID-19 compliance officer on the staff.

“Each stage is requiring new protocols, right, a new emphasis, and so on. Most of my thoughts are managing that part so that the program can actually go forward with the strategic elements. But almost all my time is nothing other than the management of the virus at this point,” Mendenhall said.

If there is a season, the defending ACC Coastal champs will welcome an influx of transfers who became available when it became apparent that their schools wouldn’t be fielding teams this fall.

Talented Central Michigan tight end Tony Poljan, for starters. Former FCS All-American tailback Shane Simpson. A pair of JMU stars, defensive back D’Angelo Amos and defensive lineman Adeeb Atariwa.

“It’s probably the most NFL-like thing that I’ve ever been through as a college coach. Almost, you know, like free agency and waivers,” Mendenhall said.

Getting the new guys acclimated in this environment is another challenge, but one that you’d welcome, given the level of talents that have made themselves available.

“Should we play, depth is going to be at a premium. Having this deep of roster as you can have with as good players, with some of the unknowns that might manifest, it just seemed to be a win for for everyone involved, and that’s that was the motive behind that,” Mendenhall said.

Story by Chris Graham

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