Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall felt better about his teamâ€™s performance in a loss to Indiana after watching film of the game, and heâ€™s anticipating the improvement will only become more obvious going forward.
The Cavaliers (1-1) finish a three-game homestand to start the season Saturday against Connecticut (1-0).
Mendenhall said he saw more consistency from the offense and defense in the 34-17 loss . And although generally steady quarterback Kurt Benkert had an uneven outing, heâ€™s generally more accurate when throwing downfield than he was against the Hoosiers.
Struggles in the running game havenâ€™t helped loosen defenses, but the Huskies may afford Virginia an opportunity to finally get some production going on the ground. Connecticut allowed 447 yards in its 27-20 victory against Holy Cross .
A solid running game and passing game go hand-in-hand, Mendenhall said. â€śUntil we run the ball efficiently and make some of those down the field shots, that makes us one-dimensional, and thatâ€™s where we currently are,â€ť he said. The Cavaliers are averaging just 73.5 rushing yards per game.
The Huskies, whose game against No. 22 USF was postponed last week because of Hurricane Irma, beat the Cavaliers 13-10 last season. They rallied from a 20-7 deficit against the Crusaders of the Patriot League in their opener.
The time since has been used almost like an extension of preseason camp, coach Randy Edsall said.
â€śWe would have loved to play, of course, but I thought we took really good advantage of the opportunity that was presented to us,â€ť he said. â€śIt allowed our guys to have some extra time to get some bumps and bruises healed up, but also gave us time to get out and practice. ... I think we got better at all the things we worked on.â€ť
Mendenhall said heâ€™s relying on tape of Auburnâ€™s offense as well as what UConn did in its opener because offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee was an understudy to Tigers coach Gus Malzahn. The Huskies used two quarterbacks in their opener, switching from David Pindell to Bryant Shirreffs, who led three second-half touchdown drives. Shirreffs, a fifth-year senior, was the starter until late last season.