One facet of improvement within the Virginia Cavaliers’ football program under head coach Bronco Mendenhall has been their increased performance in high-pressure situations late in the game.
“The longer that game went, the more it seemed to feel that we were comfortable in that role of the stress and that time under tension,” Mendenhall said. “That phrase is something that resonates with us. The time under tension is where you forge and become a program and a person of substance.”
When freshman Charles Snowden sacked Duke quarterback Daniel Jones on third down of the Blue Devils’ final drive, Mendenhall’s reaction was short and simple: “Thank goodness.”
“[For] coaches, there’s time under tension for us too. Just really gratifying because this class is the one that I’ve had a chance [to select] … in that moment, he’s out there making that play.”
Mendenhall agreed with the excessive celebration penalty against Doni Dowling after his touchdown that put the Hoos up 28-14. “He took it harder - I didn’t have to say a thing. He already knew, and was in tears immediately after, and once the kick return happened, it just exacerbated how he felt. As soon as I walked in the locker room, Doni’s right there behind me and he asked if he could talk to the team, and he addressed it right off the bat really, really well.
“What we’re working to promote, and it hasn’t really taken hold to the level that I want yet, is the first thing after a great play is [to] find one teammate, then two, then three.”
Another subject that Mendenhall touched on was the Cavaliers’ uniform combinations. UVA has stuck with three combinations under Mendenhall’s leadership, after 10 different combos when Mike London was in charge. Mendenhall strongly hinted that the Cavaliers will have new gear in 2018.
“You’ll see a really cool uniform design that’ll be released in 2018 that I think everyone will really like. But I want to honor the current institution, the greatest eras, so I’d love it to be traditional. I’d also like it to be consistent. I much prefer a brand where, when a team’s playing, you know exactly who they are rather than maybe one of 15, 18, or 20 combinations as to ‘who is that [team] playing?’
“I’d like our brand to be recognized for doing things with integrity, doing it the right way, honoring past successes at UVA, and almost being historical in some way where we’re representing more than football.”
Virginia hits the road Saturday to face North Carolina (1-5, 0-3 ACC). The game kicks off at 3:30pm and will be televised by regional sports networks.