Bronco: No time to be wasted for 'Hoos during Tech Week

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- It has been the motto for the Virginia football team since before Olamide Zaccheaus broke a rock that said "Beat Tech" to signal the end of off-season workouts. UVA players have been talking about beating Virginia Tech all season. They break huddles with the mantra, and it's part of the signage at both Scott Stadium and the McCue Center.

But when it came time to talk about Friday's trip to Blacksburg, only Bronco Mendenhall was made available to talk to reporters at John Paul Jones Arena on Monday.

Mendenhall told his team at a meeting Monday morning that any of the team's typical media obligations would be optional this week. The five players originally scheduled to appear -- quarterback Bryce Perkins, running back Jordan Ellis, offensive lineman Marcus Applefield, outside linebacker Charles Snowden and cornerback Bryce Hall -- all declined to attend.

"I did frame to them what we need to get done. And what time frame and what urgency, and that normal isn't enough, and we needed every second," Mendenhall explained to reporters. "I basically said everything that they're doing that's not involved in going to class or winning this game is actually not going to help us.

"I did give them a choice. I think it gives our team the best chance to be focused, prepared and ready."

Mendenhall's urgency comes from the Cavaliers' abbreviated prep time this week. The Wahoos didn't get home from Saturday's overtime loss to Georgia Tech in Atlanta until late that night -- and Friday's game is scheduled to kick off at 3:30 p.m. at Lane Stadium. The team also has Thanksgiving plans in the middle of that preparation time, before traveling to Blacksburg.

Mendenhall said a few times on Monday that this isn't a normal week -- and that Friday is not just a normal game.

"It's hard to take over a conference until you take over your own state, and certainly then your side of the division," Mendenhall said. "And so then to say it's just another game, I think we all realize the implications of it aren't just normal implications."

UVA (7-4) is an early four-point road favorite going into Blacksburg. With the Hokies sitting at 4-6, a Virginia win would end Virginia Tech's 25-year streak of postseason bowl appearances. Tech has a home game against Marshall tentatively scheduled for December 1 to attempt to reach the six-win threshold for bowl eligibility, contingent on the Hokies beating UVA on Friday.

But the Cavaliers will take the field on Saturday without a win against Tech since 2003. Heading into his third Virginia-Virginia Tech game, Mendenhall know has first-hand history of the Cavaliers' biggest rivalry.

"I'm very clear of how important this game is to our university, our fans and out players," Mendenhall said. "We have a significant deficit to overcome when you look at history. However, this is '18's team versus '18's team. And that's our focus."