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Sept. 24, 2016

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Virginia vs. Central Michigan
Sept. 24, 2016

Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall Quotes

Opening statement:
“That was a gratifying win for our team. That’s a happy group of young men in that locker room and a lot of smiles. I appreciate the trust that they have placed in me, embracing the new approach, and I appreciate the resiliency and the men they are becoming. This is not easy and they faced a lot of challenges today, ups and downs and in betweens and I think there will be more of those until we gain maturity and execution and consistency. I’m proud of our team and I’m proud of how they hung in there together. I am really thankful for the 14 families that came all the way across the country to believe that this could be a great football program. I’m certainly not saying we have arrived but it’s a nice start. I’m really impressed with Kurt Benkurt and the resiliency of our team.”

On having to fight back after the Central Michigan comeback:
“It’s amazing how it can look so easy and then so difficult in the same game and the same stretches. But to have it look easy and look difficult and then find a way to regain poise, momentum and confidence to then execute enough to win the game against a team that went on the road and beat a pretty good other team, I’m impressed. There’s a chance that there will be more of these types of games for all of us.”

On the lull the team was facing when Central Michigan came back:
“There wasn’t anything that could be said at that time. It had to be action. It wasn’t the Richmond thing but it was a relative, the second cousin maybe – one that you visit occasionally but don’t want to be there often. We’re not immune from that being past history and I’m not sure the stadium was. It seemed like there was this cultural, ‘we know what this feels like’ and I felt that. We are fighting that as hard as we can but you have to be able to battle through that a few times before that becomes the new normal. Hopefully this will start that.”

On defining roles on the team:
“We are becoming much clearer, not clear yet, and this for the entire team, as to which players get the ball in what formations in what plays. So we are literally personelling everything from blitzes to runs to passes and when your roster is not extremely deep, then you try to use as many different players in the roles they can be used in to the best of their ability to give them success and our team success.”

On the feeling in the locker room:
“It was sheer joy. They were waiting for me to come in like it was a big deal to them to celebrate for me as well and I couldn’t wait to celebrate for them. That’s gratifying when it meant a lot for them to make me feel special and visa versa. It’s one of those things I won’t forget, ever.”

On Kurt Benkert breaking the school record for passing yards:
“He’s a good player but more than that to break a school record is not something to take lightly, nor was it our intent for him to break the school record. I don’t pay attention to those things. But he’s an amazing student so he came to us as an A student, he came to us as someone who loves football and he came to us someone who wants to lead a team and that really is no maintenance. When you talk about quarterbacks in our day in age, that’s pretty uncommon. He’s doing a really nice job. He’s what I want at UVA: a good player, a good student, a good person and someone that can do it all. He’s learning and maturing and this is his fourth start and to break a school record in his fourth start as a college athlete is pretty remarkable.”

UVA Player Quotes

Junior Wide Receiver Doni Dowling

On the team waiting for Coach Mendenhall to celebrate
“It’s 100 wins. I can’t say I have 100 wins. That’s something big to celebrate. I congratulated Coach Mendenhall, but this won’t be his last one, so we’ll keep pushing forward and give him 100 more one day.”

On stretching the field and big plays
“That’s always been a big part of our offense. Today we really executed on our plays. We came in confident. Coach Anae dialed up some plays that we are really good at and that worked well in practice. The play was already made in practice, so today was just a showcase of that.”

On how the team handled adversity
“A big thing we’re working on is staying together. If you notice, our sideline is completely different from last year– completely different from the first game. We stay together. As long as we stick together and encourage our teammates, the fans come around, and it’s contagious.”

Junior Quarterback Kurt Benkert

On breaking the school’s single-game passing record
“It was a collective effort from a lot of different guys. That last one to Smoke was a swing pass for 53 yards, so I didn’t really have to do much on that one. We had a lot of really good plays. The O-Line has really been getting better every week, and the whole cohesiveness of the offense is coming together.”

On responding to his pick-six:
“It just happens. It’s football. They jumped a screen, and it was a really good play by the guy. I didn’t think he was going to actually catch it, but it was a really good play by him. We’ve been in tough situations already this year, and none of that really shakes us at all.”

On the team’s outlook before the score to break the 28-28 tie:
“We knew that it was important to move the ball. We had to worry about first downs first, trying to set ourselves up for good third-down situations, and we didn’t do a great job of that to start the second half. They just gave us a look that really worked on the play, and we just took a shot.”

On what it was like in the locker room after the game with Coach Mendenhall:
“[Coach Mendenhall] and his staff do so much for us, and they put in so much time. It just hasn’t worked out the first three weeks the way we wanted it to or expected it to. We’ve just worked so hard for so long and for all of it to finally come together and for him to get his 100th win after such a heartbreak last week, there was just a lot of raw emotion in the locker room.”

Junior Defensive End Jack Powers

On his pass-breakups today:
“He [Cooper Rush] gets the ball out quick, and a lot of times we can’t get there [to him]. The first one I probably should have intercepted. I wish I could’ve gotten that one back.”

Sophomore Wide Receiver Olamide Zaccheus

On his 82-yard touchdown reception:
“It was there earlier in the game, and we just went back to it. I told Coach Anae that it was a play that was there. They played it similarly earlier in the game.”

On what the win felt like:
“It’s just another one, honestly. I learned in high school just to be even-keeled about everything, even when we lose. It’s just another win and just learning from everything.”

Senior Tailback Albert Reid

On the intensity when the game was tied 28-28:
“We are not tense at all. We don’t tense up. That’s the one thing coach tells us ‘don’t tense up, just play the game’ and we got four quarters.”

On the tweet he sent out to ESPN College GameDay:
“I just want to thank College GameDay for not believing in us. I want to thank everybody for not believing in us because we proved you wrong. Everybody else who doubted us, thank you. Don’t come back when we continue to win. I heard it right when I came out of the hotel room. I looked at Smoke [Taquan Mizzell] and said okay we have something for you. I don’t care who it was. I know it was on ESPN College GameDay and they doubted us. I tweeted it and showed the team. They disrespected us and made us the laughing stock of TV today just because they said this game for Central Michigan was going to be a lookover game.”

On the feeling of the win:
“I have never felt better. I know it is going to continue to come every week. We want you to keep not believing in us and we are going to prove you wrong.”

On the resilience of the team:
“We practice that all week. We practiced that all week, we practice when things go wrong, somebody has to step up. We knew it was going to be a breakthrough.”

On not arriving yet:
“We continue to go everyday. As far as the leaders and captains, we have to push everybody because it’s only the beginning.”

On the locker room post game:
“You should have seen it. There was Gatorade being thrown and water everywhere. Coach [Bronco] Mendenhall came in and he was the first person to start celebrating and the locker room went crazy.”

Senior Tailback Taquan Mizzell

On the feeling of getting the run:
“It felt great. It was a time in the game where our team needed a play. There was a time in the series before when my coaches said ‘we’re coming to you’ and I said, ‘please do.’ I just had to make a play.”

On the College GameDay Tweet:
“I heard UVA and heard what they were talking about. [Albert] Reid told me about it and as soon as I heard I wanted to quote it. We let the guys know in the locker room, so it was great motivation right there. I don’t care who said it, I was happy to hear it. It’s been a rough start to the season, but you can never count us out. It is football.”

On ever being happier after a win:
“I can’t remember being happier than that. The trials and tribulations make it that much more exciting. Guys counting us out at the start of a new program, and heartbreaking losses like last weekend, and fighting as hard as we did against Oregon. To come back like that was so exciting for us and the whole team and coaching staff.”

On having an impact on the game:
“We all feed off each other. When offense goes down we look at some of our leaders to make plays and O [Olamide Zaccheaus] is one of them. He is a huge playmaker for us just like Albert [Reid], who we’ve been leaning on a lot. I just knew that for me, it is the opportunity to keep my head up and keep working hard and make the plays.”

Junior Inside Linebacker Micah Kiser

On helping Coach [Bronco] Mendenhall getting his first win of the season and 100th career:
“It was awesome. That was probably the most emotional I have ever seen him. To be able to get his 100th win overall and his first one at UVA, that was a great moment for us.”

On celebrating with Mendenhall in the locker room:
“He was proud of us. And that is probably the only way I can put it. He was proud to be a Cavalier and we are happy to have him as our leader.”

On the College GameDay Tweet:
“Coach Ruffin [McNeill] always talks about the nonbelievers, so we fight against that. It doesn’t matter. We stay together and all we need is our team. We know what we’re capable of and we know what we can do. I think, especially since the Richmond game, you’ve seen a pretty resilient group out there.”

Central Michigan Head Coach John Bonamego Quotes

On the game overall:
“We’re obviously very disappointed with the outcome of the game. I didn’t feel like we played very well at all in any phase. Hats off to Virginia’s staff and players. They played a very hard fought game, and we just made too many mistakes to win – dropped passes, penalties, missed tackles, giving up big plays. It was very uncharacteristic of how we played in the first three games and we have to rebound quickly with our conference schedule starting this Saturday at home. I believe that we will do that. We’ll take a look at the tape, learn from it and be prepared to play on Saturday.”

On the possibility of overlooking Virginia:
“I don’t believe so. We haven’t talked about [our next game against] Western [Michigan] yet. All that talk comes from the media. Inside our locker room, no one has talked about that. We just didn’t play well. This is a game of execution, and when you drop balls, miss tackles and let people behind you in coverage, that’s when you get beat. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing or what their record is. That’s a much better football team than their record shows. Their quarterback does a really good job of getting the ball out quickly. Defensively, they’ve got a couple guys up front that are as good as we’ll face all year.”

On the role injuries played in the game:
“Injuries always affect you. Guys are starters because they are the best at their position, but we expect the next guy to come in and pick up the slack. The biggest difference between the starter and the non-starter should be experience.”

On the missed field goal:
“I think it was on the hold. Mark [Chapman]’s nursing an ankle and Brian [Eavey]’s foot clipped Mark’s toe. The spot was too close to his foot, so when Brian swung through, they clicked toes, so that’s why the ball came off the way it did. It happened once earlier in the week, but we thought it was corrected. It didn’t show up on any of the extra points, it just came up on that field goal.”

On Central’s defense:
“Defensive football is about taking angles, getting off of blocks and getting to the football, but we weren’t getting off of blocks crisply enough.”

On the touchdown that put Virginia ahead 35-28:
“Sean Bunting, who is a freshman, dropped coverage. I don’t know if he saw the quarterback scramble out of the pocket, but he dropped coverage and let the receiver get behind him, which you can’t do.”

Central Michigan Player Quotes

Senior Quarterback Cooper Rush

On coming back from a 28-0 score and adjustments in the game:
“As a team we always keep fighting. We can be in any game we want if we just play it right. But we learn, we have to stop starting like that-it’s not going to cut it. We were talking about [the game] and someone has to make a play when you’re down like that. We had a couple plays to get us going. We got a fourth down that kept the drive going. Then we had a big play by Corey Willis right before the half, and those were two huge things which really got us going. But you don’t really change things up. You just have to go the course and start executing better.”

On recent team slow starts:
“It’s something that we stress-that we have to start fast. It’s something we haven’t executed yet. We have to stay out there long, early on, and stop putting our defense in a position like that. It’s tough on them to be out on the field the whole first quarter.”

On facing Virginia’s defense throughout the first half:
“Today we were hurting ourselves. We just weren’t making plays that were there. [We] were taking too long. It was more on us and our execution. We failed to execute, but they played really well today in the secondary-number three played really well, he’s a good player. So hats off to them.”

On losing a few players to injury:
“It’s pretty important for us, especially now that a couple guys are banged up. Brandon Childress played tremendously today. As a young guy, to be prepared like he is, it’s really impressive. Eric Cooper played really well today, knowing that he had to step up when Jesse [Kroll] went down. That was big, and I’d like to see us build on it.”

On looking ahead toward the Western Michigan game:
“All our goals are pretty set out. It’s the beginning of the [conference] season and they’re still in front of us. It’s time, when you have the rival coming to your place. It’s going to be a huge game. We will bounce back. We have a strong team, strong leadership. Losses hurt, but just like a win you have to hang on and keep going. Knowing that it’s the Western game will make that easy.”

Junior Defensive Back Amari Coleman

On reacting to a battered defense during the first half, trailing 28-0:
“It was tough, but as a team we just didn’t play well enough. Defensively we didn’t come out and we didn’t throw the first punch. They threw it and threw it fast.”

On facing Virginia’s offense:
“We pretty much expected them to come out and do some stuff that we haven’t seen before. So, it wasn’t really a surprise. But, we just have to make plays on what they give us, and we didn’t.”

On team tying up the score at 28-28:
“The vibe was well. We have been down plenty of times in games and have come back and won. But, this time it just didn’t happen. We just have to wake up and we didn’t wake up. We have to think about next week and think really hard and come back to get the W.­­­­­­­­”

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