Video: UVA football coach Bronco Mendenhall
UVA football coach Bronco Mendenhall talks with reporters after the Cavs’ 28-10 win over William & Mary on Saturday.
“In regards to the game today, I thought it was a solid effort by all three phases. There are certainly things we can improve, but we looked more mature and more confident. I think we just played a higher level of football in our opener from beginning to end than we did a year ago. We broke a streak for no turnovers. The last time that happened was 2013. That’s a lot of Virginia football games. I thought our special teams for the beginning of the year were strong. The coverage and return unit mirrored the defense and the offense in terms of where we were. I think our program is about mirrored images when you look at the three sides of the ball. We probably left 14 more points our there that I think we could get if we are playing at a high level. For the one scoring drive from William & Mary, the quarterback scramble hurt us, so we need to put in some work there. It was really just their quarterback avoiding sacks and running for yardage that got them into the end zone. Overall, it was a solid start. I’m happy to see the kids smile and ready to improve on all the areas we need to for the next one.”
On turnovers and passing improvement
“We know game management is going to be critical at the current stage of our team. It wasn’t necessarily wide open, but it was conservative and efficient. There is room from improvement everywhere, but efficiency was what we were after. We were pretty strong on 3rd down today. I think we managed the 4th down scenarios and the field position well in terms of when to go for it and when not to. Overall, [Kurt Benkert] was delivering the ball to the right player at the right time. For a lot of the game we were efficient, we held onto the football and controlled the tempo. It wasn’t wild and elaborate, but it’s a nice place to start.
On Jordan Ellis’ performance
“When you’re building a developing program, your best players are also your hardest workers and have the best results. Your culture starts to permeate and build. [Jordan Ellis] was the number one jersey selection for two years in a row because of his work ethic. The whole team is happy for him whenever he has positive yards or catches a touchdown because of who he is. That’s helpful to our program and as we learn what each player can do, we know how to use them and when to use them. You saw the multiple substitutions and it’s becoming clearer as to what our current program looks like.”
On defensive effort
“I’m very self critical of everything we do as a team, especially on the defense. The number one thing I took away from today was the scramble work. We didn’t do a great job with rush lanes. While I was promoting wild and aggressive play to go after the quarterback, it didn’t take long before the second half where it was just one look downfield and then see what he could do with his feet. We didn’t get tested very much because of our pressure, but we now need to coordinate our rush lanes.”
On the importance of a win for the opener
“Winning college football games is hard. We’ve got a lot of work to do in our program and we have done a lot of work in our program. I’m just proud of the guys. They were anxious to play and optimistic before they went out. They were confident and looking forward to playing football. Part of the development of the program is actually looking forward to the contest. I think our team will have a different presence. To have a reward for that after all the work and amount of time we spent in fall camp, it’s gratifying to see them happy.”
On 4th down touchdown plays
“[Kurt Benkert] is just becoming more consistent. We had another 4th 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 intent 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.”