ACC Media Days wrapped on Thursday in Charlotte, North Carolina, meaning we’re one step closer to football season. Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall took his Bryces — Perkins and Hall — with him to the event, and the trio went through the parade of media availability and promo spots.
The Cavaliers are entering Mendenhall’s fourth season with Virginia with expectations, a welcome change from some of the doom-and-gloom that oh-so-often precluded August in Charlottesville. Virginia finished last season 8-5, giving the Hoos a winning season for the first time since 2011 — Mike London’s second season. Things ended on a high note as the Cavaliers defeated the SEC’s South Carolina, 28-0, in the Belk Bowl (Virginia’s first bowl win since the 2005 Music City Bowl).
Virginia graduated some big pieces in defenders Juan Thornhill, Tim Harris, and Chris Peace, and explosive playmakers in Jordan Ellis and Olamide Zaccheaus. Perkins and Hall highlight the returnees for the Hoos, and both have garnered national attention as we approach the start to the season. Alongside the Bryces, Virginia has dynamic receiver Joe Reed, rangy defender Charles Snowden, and safety Joey Blount (to name a few).
Summer workouts have been underway and the Cavaliers brought a solid recruiting class on Grounds. The preseason media predictions for all-conference teams and predicted order of finish won’t be released until next week, but the Hoos are optimistic.
“Just looking at last summer to this summer, even last spring to this spring, the sense of urgency we have as a team in how player to player accountability, just how we train has definitely grown from last year to this year,” Perkins said during his podium time at the event. “I think everybody on our team is starting to believe, starting to work like we deserve to be in the top conversation. We expect to be great. We won’t settle for anything less.”
Hall was optimistic about moving forward, knowing that the team would be using all of the lessons learned last year. “I think there is understanding what we did last year, trying to learn from our mistakes, then kind of put that behind us,” Hall stated. “I think the more you kind of dwell on what you did in the past can make you complacent moving forward. With that in mind, we know what we’re capable of doing. Now we’re trying to be even better than we were a year ago.”
Perkins, who had 212 rushing attempts last year in his first season with the Cavaliers, doesn’t have any set expectations for his running game in 2019. “I mean, really, whatever the game calls for. It’s going to be games whether it calls for it to be higher, games that call for it to be lower. Whatever the games call for, it’s for us to win. That’s the ultimate end goal, is to win,” Perkins stated. “Whatever I need to do, whatever role I need to play to do so, I’ll be happy to.”
Mendenhall, who dropped references to both the men’s basketball and lacrosse national championships in 2019, knows that internal expectations are high at Virginia. “What I’ve learned at Virginia is it’s a magical place. I recently heard our University president, Jim Ryan, give an address where he talked about those at UVA. He expects us to be good and great,” Mendenhall said. “‘Great’ meaning how we perform, how we accomplish our tasks, how we’re worthy of our hire, but ‘good’ meaning the morals, values and integrity with which we do it. What I’ve learned at UVA is it does matter that you’re good, and it does matter that you’re great. Those are our expectations.”
The season kicks off at Pitt on August 31 with an ACC matchup to kick off the launch of the ACC Network.