Mendenhall Still Upset Over Mack Ejection

Bronco Mendenhall fields questions from the media.

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall didn’t like the call that ultimately called for the disqualification of linebacker and defensive captain Jordan Mack from Saturday’s game at Louisville. He didn’t like it at the time of the call, and he didn’t like it on Monday after reviewing the video of the play over and over again.

Leading 14-7 midway through the third quarter, Louisville as facing a third-and-three situation at the UVA 42-yard line. Under a heavy pass rush, Cardinals quarterback Malik Cunningham threw an incomplete pass, which would have forced a punt. However, game officials flagged Mack for targeting.

After the play was reviewed in the replay booth, Mack was ejected, Louisville was awarded a first down, and the Cardinals were in the end zone four plays later, knotting the game at 14-all before going on to win 28-21.

Because the call came during the third quarter, not only did Mack miss the rest of the game, he will also have to sit out the first half of this coming Saturday’s game at North Carolina, a game that will decide who is in first place in the ACC Coastal Division.

Mendenhall said the call greatly impacted his defense and the game.

“The impact was huge,” he said. “It was a third down stop. It’s a defensive captain on a play, and a ruling I didn’t agree with, and still don’t. So it not only had impact on that game at a high level, but impact on the first half of the next game at a high level.

“And so it had an emotional toll on our team, it had a performance toll on our team not only for that drive, but finishing the game, and I don’t think the hit was in alignment with the intent of the rule is where I stand.”

True freshman Nick Jackson will likely start in Mack’s place at Carolina. He came in to fill Mack’s spot in Louisville.

“Nick is really smart and him being able to keep up with the insertion, not only physically, but mentally, and he has the ability to play and make plays, and he tries hard,” Mendenhall said of Jackson. “He’s adjusted to the culture, embraced the culture. He’s a capable playmaker.”

Mendenhall said he was happy with the way Jackson performed under pressure at Louisville. Certainly there had to be a drop off from an experienced fourth-year player like Mack, but still, under the circumstances Jackson held his own.

One thing is for certain, Carolina’s offense will try to take advantage of Virginia’s defense where the Cavaliers have been hit the hardest by injuries of late. UVA lost All-American cornerback candidate Bryce Hall at Miami, and won’t have Mack for the first half. The Wahoos also lost linebacker Rob Snyder.

Another thing is certain in that Jackson’s teammates have his back.

“We invest all confidence in every player regardless of experience,” said fellow linebacker Noah Taylor, a sophomore.  “Our standard is not going to change based off who is in there.

“Nick has been exceptional. He’s been able to work his way into the two-deep, so there’s the same expectation whether it’s him or Jordan Mack. Obviously Jordan has more experience but we’re still going to play the same defense we play whether it’s Jordan or Nick. He just does his job.”


  1. Shekila MACK says:

    Great write up.

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