In his first ACC teleconference, Virginia football head coach Bronco Mendenhall paid high compliments to the team's progression to date.
"The team has really done everything I've asked them to do and have done it at a really high level," Mendenhall said.
Originally, Mendenhall had told reporters that there would be a spring game only if the players earned it. Virginia just yesterday released details on Virginia's Spring Football Festival, where it was announced that the team would treat the event as an open practice, with "live-game situations" included, but no spring game. That's not to say, however, that the players didn't earn the game.
"They certainly qualified for a game," Mendenhall said. "But then in presenting to them ‘Now, here's how we can really benefit.' I think this day would help us if we did a different format than a spring game.
""Where we currently are in measuring our program and really how I expressed it to our team is our program will move farther ahead and faster with one more work day, so that's what we plan to do."
When asked about the buy-in from students, Mendenhall said that he was pleasantly surprised how little resistance there was from the team.
"I was expecting more resistance and I was expecting more attrition as we took over the program and changed culture and work capacity and different expectations. I've been pleasantly surprised at every turn with some key decisions that I made regarding our team. The team basically accepts that as, ‘this will help us,' and they fall behind it and they go, which is really refreshing."
"We're deeper into practice and our insertions than where I expected to be. We're probably deeper into developing our culture than I expected to be at this point."
This past Saturday, Virginia held their first scrimmage, but it was without the regular hype and hoopla that typically accompanies this kind of event for a team.
"We really didn't make a giant production out of it. In fact, I didn't tell the team that we were going to the stadium. I didn't tell them that we were going to be practicing live. I basically presented it simply as another workday, there just happened to be busses here to take them to the stadium."
"I thought that would give me my best chance to see, when just asked rather than prepared at a really high level for a scrimmage and a production, who can play football and who can't? Who can turn it on and turn it off at any time? So that was the reference point. A lot of that led to the thought of doing something similar this Saturday."
The gates open for Virginia's Spring Football Festival at 2:00 p.m., and the practice will take place beginning 4:15 p.m.