Notebook: Should Bronco Borrow A Speech From Parcells?

By Jerry Ratcliffe

UVA dance teamer Nadeen Rollins kept her energy level up despite the cold temperatures Saturday (Photo by John Markon).

As Friday’s showdown for the ACC Coastal Division championship approaches for Virginia and visiting Virginia Tech, it would be interesting to hear what things Bronco Mendenhall might be saying to his team about ending a 15-year losing streak to the Hokies.

Perhaps one of the greatest motivating speeches ever given to a football team was actually a halftime delivery from Bill Parcells to his 1994 New England Patriots team, which turned that franchise completely around from a loser to an eventual champion year after year.

Maybe Mendenhall could rip a page from Parcells’ book of motivation to help end this losing drought to Tech.

Over the six seasons leading up to that Patriots game against Warren Moon and the Vikings, the Pats had won 19 games and lost 61 and were on their fourth owner in seven seasons. New England was 3-6 going into the game against the 7-4 Vikings and things looked bad. Minnesota jumped out to a 20-0 halftime lead.

Parcells had seen enough.

“I can remember vividly what I told the team,” Parcells said. “I said, ‘How long exactly are you guys going to sit around and take this kind of stuff?’

‘You know, you guys come in here, you guys work hard, we don’t have a lot of problems on the team, you take a beating and you go home. How long are you going to just keep doing that? How long is that going to be good enough for you? Because don’t call yourself a pro football player then. Just call yourself a sparring partner.’”

Parcells came out of his office in the locker room screaming about putting up all the markers and boards, that there weren’t going to be any halftime adjustments, no talking.

“‘We have coached you for two years. You know what to do, but until you want to win, you’re not going to win!’” Parcells said.

There was one adjustment, as the Patriots went to the no-huddle, two-minute drill for the entire second half and came back to win, 26-20, in overtime.

Maybe that’s a question that Bronco or one of his assistants can ask Virginia’s team: You take a beating (by Tech) and you go home. How long is that going to be good enough for you?


Back-To-Back Crazy 8’s

Mendenhall pointed out this week that his past two teams have done something very rare and special in Virginia football history in posting back-to-back seasons with at least eight wins.

“At this point, back-to-back eight-win seasons is something that the team has contributed with the script still to be written,” the coach said. “That’s exciting and fun for them. Knowing every single goal they had written or chosen prior to the season is still in play.”

Mendenhall was correct. Only four times since WWII has the Virginia program won at least eight games in consecutive seasons.

George Welsh’s teams did it twice: 1989 (10-3, the only 10-win season in UVA history), 1990 (8-4, including a No. 1 national ranking) and 1991 (8-3-1). Welsh did it again in 1994 (9-3) and 1995 (9-4).

Al Groh’s teams did it in 2002 (9-5), 2003 (8-5) and 2004 (8-4).

The only other time during that span came shortly after the war when Art Guepe’s teams did it in 1950 (8-2), 1951 (8-1) and 1952 (8-2), all impressive because they only played 10 games.

Before that, one has to go back to 1914 and 1915 to find UVA with eight wins back-to-back.


Chris Moore’s Status

Starting strong safety Chris Moore was suspended for last week’s Liberty game, adding to the secondary’s woes after losing three starters and some backups over the course of the season.

Mendenhall said Moore was suspended for violation of team rules.

On Monday, the coach said this about the junior’s status:

“It’s still indefinite. No new information to pass on.”


Taulapapa Injury Report

Starting running back Wayne Taulapapa wasn’t 100 percent and didn’t play against Liberty, but Mendenhall said he anticipates the starter being 100 percent for this Friday’s game against the Hokies.

Meanwhile, Taulapapa’s runs were filled by three other backs: PK Kier, Lamont Atkins and Mike Hollins (freshman). Along with quarterback Bryce Perkins, the Cavaliers rushed for a season-high 227 yards.

“Nothing surprised me about their play,” Mendenhall said. “The only thing holding them back is Wayne Taulapapa, daily in our practice, a more consistent performer.

“The competition has been every single week, every single day. The margin of difference isn’t much, as you saw in terms of yield and result. That just made it clearer how tight it really is. Knowing that Wayne is coming off an injury, you certainly could see them more this week.”


Golden Nugget

Hats off to UVA media relations assistant Vince Briedis for researching this statistic of the week.

Virginia has not turned the ball over during the last three games (UNC, Georgia Tech, Liberty), the first time that’s happened since 1984.

If you’re wondering, the Cavaliers have never gone four games in a row without a turnover. The timing to break that record is impeccable.


Bronco On Bud

Friday will be legendary Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s last regular-season game and last shot at rival UVA. Foster announced earlier this season that he would be retiring from his position with the Hokies after this year.

While they are rivals, Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall, somewhat of a defensive guru, has admired Foster’s work from afar.

“I think Bud’s career has been exemplary,” Mendenhall said. “I think his reputation and performance as a defensive coach, a strong defensive mind has been well documented. I’ve always been impressed, have admired the results that his teams have gotten, for the sustainability for being strong for that long.

“I think he’s had an exemplary career, remarkable results, and really refreshing to see a coach find a place where he fits and has stayed and become kind of an identity of the institution in this world of free agency. I much prefer that.”


Rivalry Not So Heated

With Virginia Tech owning Virginia for the last 15 years, the rivalry aspect of the series has dropped off a bit.

Even at its peak, it isn’t anything like what Mendenhall came out of in the BYU vs. Utah rivalry, labeled as the “Holy War.” 

“I’d rather not compare,” Mendenhall said when asked about the two situations. “The previous rivalry, it’s hard to describe because there’s a religious component involved. It spins it much differently.

“Bitter would be subtle in relation to the conduct that I saw. Really don’t think it was good for college football or either team. That was just my take.”


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