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Virginia’s Bronco Mendenhall hopes for a dedicated football facility within three years

The process is starting to come together.

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

One of the longtime hindrances of the Virginia Cavaliers football program has been a football-specific facility dedicated to the entire program. Currently, the McCue Center across the street from John Paul Jones Arena houses not only offices and locker rooms for the football team, but an athletic training clinic and weight rooms that are shared throughout the entire athletic department. What’s more is that the facility opened in 1991 — making it older than Klockner Stadium, Davenport Field, JPJ, and the current iteration of Scott Stadium.

UVA head coach Bronco Mendenhall was asked on his weekly radio show Tuesday night about a would-be timetable for the facility and whether there have been any developments on that front. Cavaliers fans should enjoy his answer.

After speaking effusively of athletic director Carla Williams’ vision and understanding of the importance of what she calls a “healthy football program,” Mendenhall said that the hope is that the facility will be ready in three years’ time. “Significant fundraising” is still necessary, he noted, before adding that “if and when” the Wahoos return to the postseason this year, that process could be accelerated. If all that comes together quickly? Virginia “might never look back,” Mendenhall said.

On the early pick-six by Bryce Perkins in the Hoos’ 42-13 win over the Richmond Spiders on Saturday, Mendenhall acknowledged that because of Perkins’ youth and inexperience, “we knew there would be some inconsistencies” in the speedy quarterback’s throwing game. The mood on the sideline wasn’t one of “here we go again” or similar feelings from the past, he continued, but anger: “It was just ‘no, that part of the program is over.’”

Mendenhall said that Perkins told him afterward that the plays where he shredded the UR defense for big gains and touchdowns reminded him of practice because that’s how they practice. Two takeaways for me there: One, that’s reminiscent of the way former Virginia coach George Welsh ran his practices, in the mantra of the Blue Angels: “You fight like you train, so train like you fight.” Two: I really hope UVA can contain a scrambling quarterback better than that.

Lastly, Mendenhall said that this week’s opponent, the Indiana Hoosiers, are “a little bit more youthful” on the defensive side of the ball than they were last year, when they held the Cavs to 314 yards and 17 points in a rout in Charlottesville. Indeed, it was a 44-yard IU punt return for a score with just under six minutes left that provided the final 34-17 margin one year ago.