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Virginia Spring Football Festival Provided First Look for Fans

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“I think we accomplished a lot, with a long way to go,” says head coach Bronco Mendenhall.

Virginia’s Spring Football Festival competed with the Foxfield Races for attendance.
Streaking the Lawn

Virginia Football held its Spring football Festival on Saturday amidst a small, but passionate crowd that chose to attend the team’s last practice rather than the Foxfield Races.

Though many fans expressed their frustration on Twitter that the “spring game” was scheduled on the same day as Foxfield, head coach Bronco Mendenhall has previously stated that the spring football festival is treated just as another practice, rather than a showcase or pep rally type of event.

“You saw a very similar format to what we’ve been doing the entire spring today,” Mendenhall said after the game. “We didn’t alter it much for our last practice. That gives us one more chance to evaluate our team, our depth, and area of our team that are strong [as well as] some areas that need improvement.”

The Virginia offense defeated the defense by a final score of 84-76 in a game designed to simulate time frames, downs and distances, and competitive situations. If that score makes no sense to you, that’s okay. Here’s how the plays were scored:

  • First Down (1 point play): If the offense moves the ball four yards, it earns one point. If not, the defense earns a point.
  • Second Down (1 point play): If the offense moves the ball half the distance needed to get a first down, it earns a point. If not, the defense gets a point.
  • Third Down (3 point play): If the offense converts, it gets three points. If not, the defense gets a point.
  • Fourth Down (4 / 7 point play): If the offense converts, it gets four points. If not, the defense gets seven points.
  • Touchdowns: 7 points for offense.
  • Turnovers: 7 points for defense.

But if you were there in person, it was nonetheless impossible to score on your own. Points were seemingly arbitrarily awarded. At times, both teams met at the 50-yard line with a ring set up, and the teams engaged in what looked like an impromptu sumo wrestling match. Points were generously awarded.

No names and no numbers on jerseys made it challenging for fans — and media — to follow along.

One thing that may allay some fears for fans: quarterback Kurt Benkert looked fully healthy with no quarterback controversies brewing. On multiple occasions Benkert overthrew his target, but he also made a number of torpedo-like, mid-range passes.

The Virginian-Pilot’s David Hall managed to get video of a couple plays:

The picture we used at the top of this article was taken right around 3:00, the scheduled start time for the practice. Though the crowd did grow as the afternoon progressed, and many were tucked in the shade or in the air conditioned boxes to avoid the 95+ degree heat, it didn’t look like much more than a couple thousand in attendance.

Mendenhall complimented today’s format, which allowed for the “volume of kicks just to provide enough focus on kicking, but also enough rest for our team, with the current size of our roster [and] our depth.”

“I think we accomplished a lot,” Mendenhall commented after the game, “with a long way to go.”