Virginia Football head coach Bronco Mendenhall participated in the ACC Football Coaches Teleconference on Wednesday morning, addressing topics ranging from the recent resignation announcement of Athletic Director Craig Littlepage to the preparation for Saturday’s game with Indiana.
“It’s always nice to start the season with a win to gain momentum and see smiles on the players faces and see return on investment,” Mendenhall stated to start the press conference. He also mentioned the Hoos are anxious for their next challenge, which comes in the form of a visit from the Big Ten’s Indiana on Saturday at 3:30.
“They like to be uptempo. Indiana has that as their brand,” he said of the Hoosiers. “They do blend physical football with tempo...they throw the ball very efficiently as well as running it effectively.” Mendenhall mentioned a lot of programs that like to play uptempo sometimes lose the physicality, but Indiana has succeeded in combining the two styles and won’t sacrifice physical play for tempo.
“Indiana isn’t afraid to run around you, but they also like to go through you.”
The Hoos were thrown a wrench when cornerback Tim Harris suffered a season-ending injury in the team’s first game, but Mendenhall still isn’t sure who will start. Virginia’s most recent depth chart has first year Germane Crowell in the role, but Coach said, “...we’ll use every minute all the way up to game time...we haven’t decided on who will start.”
Darious Lattimore, a third year cornerback, isn’t close to returning despite ongoing rehab for a lower extremity injury that kept him off the field all last season. “He’s not ready to play,” Mendenhall stated. “He’s going through the rehab protocol and it’s taking longer than any of us would like.” Mendenhall expressed both his and Darius’s frustration with the process as, “...everyone wants him back.”
Coach Mendenhall was also asked about the recent retirement announcement of long-time Virginia Athletic Director Craig Littlepage. Littlepage’s departure, coupled with University President Teresa Sullivan’s end of term and Executive AD Jon Oliver’s departure, marks a very interesting time for the University of Virginia (and its athletic department).
“It’s a unique time and also a unique opportunity,” Mendenhall said of the impending changes on grounds. “Leadership in every level of alignment all the way to myself is changing. I think it’ll be a great opportunity for UVA to reset and make really clear what their expectations are in all sports, and also what kind of commitment you want to make to football.”
Mendenhall also praised Littlepage, saying, “Craig did an exceptional job leading this athletic department.”
As far as the game this weekend goes, Mendenhall was optimistic. “I see another opportunity to grow and develop and improve our football team. They’re [Indiana] a quality opponent.” He closed saying he felt his team was gaining confidence while also seeming more “poised and mature”.