What will UVA football look like in 2016 under Bronco Mendenhall?
But how will Mendenhall’s approach will translate across the continent to the ACC?
Even Mendenhall can’t answer that question just yet.
“We have a very good system at BYU that is specific to the players at BYU, and the system changes each year based on who we have,” said Mendenhall, who noted his program’s offensive success with two different types of quarterbacks the past two seasons – Tanner Mangum threw for 3,062 yards, 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2015 after taking over for incumbent starter Taysom Hill, a dual-threat QB who threw for 2,938 yards and ran for 1,344 yards in his last full season, in 2013.
“I love adaptability. I love flexibility. I love innovation. And I love whatever maximizes the current resources that are available in a program on any given day versus any given opponent, and that is the philosophy, and so based on what I see that we have here, yeah, there are core plays, but really I can’t tell you what that’s going to look like until I see what we have,” Mendenhall said.
The basics: he likes balance.
“If you look at BYU’s model and look at who’s playing quarterback and who’s playing running back and who’s playing receiver, you’ll see we produced the three all-time leading rushers in BYU’s history, and we’ve also had very unique quarterback success. At the same time, this year we have four really tall receivers and we throw the ball downfield a lot,” Mendenhall said.
So it’s not a copout when Mendenhall says he will shape his offense to highlight the skills of what he has to play with.
Defense is Mendenhall’s domain. He said Monday that he will lead the defense at Virginia, and he was an early adapter of the 3-3-5, which gets more speed on the field with one extra defensive back.
The scheme is oriented toward slowing down the passing game, and his 2015 BYU football team has been solid against the pass – opponents had a 112.8 passer efficiency rating, 23rd nationally, a tick or two higher than the Virginia pass defense ranked in 2015.
The Cavs ranked 116th (of 128 FBS teams) with a 151.7 opponent passer rating.
For sake of what those numbers mean, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, a top candidate for the Heisman Trophy, has a 159.6 pass efficiency rating, and second-team All-ACC QB Marquise Williams at North Carolina had a 151.4 rating this season.
It’s hard to win games when the average quarterback on the other side of the field is rendered a Heisman candidate.
– Story by Chris Graham