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October 4, 2017

Bronco Mendenhall

Greensboro, North Carolina

BRONCO MENDENHALL: It's good to be back in context of game week. Our team is gaining momentum, is improving and growing, and we're working the process of developing a quality football program, and so anxious to start ACC play. I have a lot of respect for Coach Cutcliffe and Duke and we're looking forward to the game.

I'll take questions.

Q. I'm curious now second year, is there a big difference for you in preparing for ACC teams because you've gone against them once, or is video study at this point so comprehensive that it didn't make a difference?
BRONCO MENDENHALL: No, there is a difference. I would say it's a substantial difference, and probably on both teams' parts. Familiarity is really helpful, of personnel, of how the games are managed, and those things are all in addition to the style of play that you're defending or taking on.

If anything, and what I am learning, is that in coming to a different league, if anything I'd be spending more time in the off-season getting the baselines for what our conference opponents have done and what they do do, more so than just using it for game week. So yeah, I think that was an underestimation, I think, on my part coming to the league, and in learnings and going forward, that would be something I would focus more time on and am focusing more time on going forward.

Q. I know how you try to focus week to week and practice to practice, but obviously people are going to start talking about the chance that this is the team that ends the bowl drought. I'm curious, is it something that you touch on in the preseason and then put away? Do you use it as a carrot and mention it at times? How do you approach that topic?
BRONCO MENDENHALL: You know, all those things are mentioned when I ask the team what it is that they're after, and once they mention it, and if they say that's something they're after, then I support it and help every way possible to facilitate that. But at that point, we just leave it because there's so much work per day and per week, and it's in the back of our minds. It's something that we hope to accomplish. But the more focus you put on that, the less effective you are in being in the moment and the preparation that is necessary for any given week. Acknowledge it and then move on.

Q. Chris Peace is averaging a little more -- a couple more tackles per game this season. He had the pick against William & Mary and has a couple sacks. How would you assess his performance to date?
BRONCO MENDENHALL: I really like Chris. He's probably the very best practice player and hardest worker and most consistent worker that I've seen defensively, which is quite a statement. That's translating into his play, and so he's completely trustworthy, reliable, and he's productive, so I like what he's doing a lot. We're really that lucky that he's here. I would take as many more guys like Chris as we could find.

Q. How does being the hardest worker in practice manifest? How do you measure that when you're watching?
BRONCO MENDENHALL: The closest that a player can perform to their potential, and so we know what 100 percent looks like for him, and the number of reps that he puts in daily that are at our close to that probably exceeds anyone that we're coaching, at least defensively. He just has what in the vernacular is called a really high motor, and that's a great compliment. He loves to go full speed. I love that about him and what it does for our culture.

Q. We haven't seen, or I haven't seen, the protests at the college level that there have been for the National Anthem in the NFL. Is that anything that you've discussed in any fashion with your team?
BRONCO MENDENHALL: No, I haven't discussed it. I think in going to your opening comment, a lot of teams aren't out of the locker room for the National Anthem, somehow just the management of game day is a little bit different in the NFL, and so I think if the teams were out, there might be some of the same issues. I don't know for sure. But just collectively, college games are managed a little bit different regarding when the teams come out. I haven't managed it, haven't addressed it, and haven't felt a need to just because of simply the timing of our games. I'm sure my team would have all kinds of thoughts and different perspectives and maybe our coaches would, and that dialogue could be healthy and might be needed at some point, we just haven't gone into it yet.

Q. Just talk about Duke, what you see with Daniel Jones, the quarterback. He seems like a very good quarterback and he's getting better every game. What do you see getting ready for that game on Saturday?
BRONCO MENDENHALL: Well, I think you've already said it. I think he's a good quarterback. I think he gets better every game. I think it's always nice to have a returning starter, and he's physical and he's tough and he's capable of making all the plays. I like what I see from him.

Q. What do you see from the -- they played Miami last week, and Miami is getting better with their defense, so what do you see on Duke's defense that might give you an issue on Saturday?
BRONCO MENDENHALL: Well, they're just very aggressive. They're very productive, and statistically there's really not much they're not doing well, and so they've earned all these rankings. They've earned the chance to be playing well, and they're creating a lot of opportunities for their team in terms of takeaways and scoring. I've been really impressed by their style of play, which is very aggressive.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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