Sitting 2-0 with dominant wins over inferior competition in William & Mary and Illinois, the Virginia Cavaliers have done nothing but impress so far this season.
With quarterback Brennan Armstrong and the passing game firing on all cylinders, a variety of running backs starting to get comfortable behind a stellar offensive line, a questioned secondary group proving its quality, an experienced, talented linebacking core living up to the hype, and an underrated defensive line getting its feet wet, there’s not much to complain about through two weeks.
But — with all that said — head coach Bronco Mendenhall is taking a hesitant but optimistic look at the first two contests. “Again, we’re only two weeks in,” he says, “I think the thing early is — well, the tendency is… to overreact to anything that happens early on.”
Of course, he notes that “our team has responded really well to both challenges [so far], exactly as I would have liked them to,” and that “they’ve given me no reason to expect they won’t do the same to No. 3 [against the North Carolina Tar Heels on Saturday.]”
He adds that “we’re where I would have hoped we would have been after two contests. We’ve had two convincing wins, two dominant performances on each side of the ball.”
Mendenhall admits that with another unique opponent the staff isn’t sitting on its hands as, “[schematic changes] will happen and they’ll happen this week and they’ll happen on offense and defense,” as he emphasizes that “that’s in relation to our opponent.”
As the Cavaliers have adjusted their schemes to fit their opponents in Illinois and William & Mary, Mendenhall goes on to say that “my hope is that [the adjustments] will happen every week,” as he hopes to “be able to employ and deploy different tactics that will give us an advantage.”
With those adjustments also comes a few improvements that Mendenhall is hoping to see in week three. “I did not think our special teams played as well in week two as week one,” he says, noting the caveat that that was “partly because there were no kick and kick return opportunities, balls going out the end-zone, et cetera, but it showed our punt return wasn’t as strong as I would have hoped and our PAT field goal [either]. That area still needs some attention I think.”
When asked about the performance of the Wahoo secondary through two weeks, Mendenhall made it clear that “I don’t think I’m ever satisfied with anything, and my team knows that.” He adds that — obviously — there’s degrees to that lack of satisfaction, saying that “I do my best to promote confidence while making sure they know there’s always something to work on. I’m not easy to satisfy.”
All in all, Mendenhall summarizes that “I am pleased with how we’ve played and what we’ve done in week one and week two, really all across the board,” before qualifying that statement by noting that “is it exactly how I want it? No. Is anything? Never has been. But I like where we are.”
It’s hard to disagree with the ever-level-headed head Wahoo as he and his team look to extend their winning streak to five games in the South’s oldest rivalry this Saturday in Chapel Hill.