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For Virginia Football, “will before skill” is the top priority against Oregon

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“Fundamental football improvement” is what Mendenhall is looking for this week.

NCAA Football: Richmond at Virginia Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday’s weekly ACC teleconference, Bronco Mendenhall acknowledged Oregon’s speed and offensive efficiency, and admitted that Virginia might be outmatched, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the Hoos won’t have an answer.

“Oregon goes very fast but they're very intentional and dynamic with the plays they run ... we're not ready to move at that pace,” Mendenhall admitted. “A couple reasons: Number one, it's too much too fast for our current team, and also our personnel isn't versatile enough, meaning that we have more role players, and when you role play, that means you substitute, and when you substitute you go slower.”

Mendenhall went on to say that the team’s current intent is to trade a little speed and volume in exchange for getting the right personnel on the field and a higher quality of plays.

Even after the struggle that was Saturday’s game, the Hoos will not have time to lick their wounds as they travel to one of the most hostile environments in the country. Mendenhall said that in his time playing for Oregon State, he remembers walking out for the coin toss and recognizing the electricity of the atmosphere and, as he said, “what a cool college experience that was.”

Mendenhall said that on Saturday, the coaching staff needs to see “a fundamental football improvement” and better scheme execution to have a chance.

“So our program [has decided] to really emphasis will before skill. That means getting kids to try hard and hustle and do things that way first, and the skill part really is the execution and the mastery part of the game,” Mendenhall said. “And so all that [manifesting] on Saturday, it just shows much that is a necessity, not only for the short-term but the long-term to actually improve the quality of execution at every position, every phase of football, including and starting first and foremost with simple fundamentals.”

Certainly, Oregon will be as big of a test of Virginia’s will as the Cavaliers will see all season.

Finally, Mendenhall said that what the team ultimately takes away from the long road trip will depend on the leadership that comes out from the players and coaching staff, and that he hopes it “will be a catalyst for bringing the team together and helping us play to even a higher level.”