Back-to-back road tests await 5-2 'Hoos

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- When talking to reporters, Bronco Mendenhall is often quick to remind that his Virginia football team is still a work in progress. That while improving, the Cavaliers haven't reached the point as a program where they'd like to be.

Consistently winning road games would be a significant step toward reaching that point, Mendenhall said on Monday. The 5-2 Wahoos play their next two on the road, with Saturday's game at Louisville followed by a trip to Chapel Hill to face North Carolina the following weekend.

"We're becoming much more consistent, much more dynamic and fairly formidable at home. And so as that starts to translate, that's just the next step of health for the program," Mendenhall said. "And so it's not so much the setting, it's just a matter of the consistency we need for an entire game, within the model this year that's working for us in terms of complementary football, and how we're having success."

"Being able to go on the road and win, that's something that we've always wanted to do and that's something we love to do," said UVA sophomore offensive lineman Ryan Nelson. "Because when you go there and you hear a loud stadium start off, and it starts getting quieter and quieter, you really feel like you're taking the soul out of a team, and we love doing that."

Following last weekend's 48-14 win against Duke at Scott Stadium, UVA improved to 9-1 at home over the past two seasons. But the Wahoos are just 2-6 in true road games over that stretch.

One of those road wins came at Pitt to open this season. Mendenhall pointed out on Monday that UVA won that game by following a similar script to the way they handled Duke this past weekend.

"There was a special teams play that impacted the game. There were turnovers that impacted the game. Field position was in our favor," Mendenhall said. "It might not be so much about where we're playing; it's just how we're playing and what that formula looks like."

Mendenhall said the Cavaliers followed that formula during the first half of their visit to Notre Dame, but got away from it in the second half, as a three-point halftime lead turned into a 35-20 loss in South Bend on September 28. Two weeks later, the Wahoos returned from their bye and failed to score a touchdown in a 17-9 loss at Miami.

"You have to execute at a higher level, and be more consistent and more mature to handle road environments," Mendenhall said.

"One of our things is like, no matter where we go, we're going to bring Virginia football there. So with that in mind, it makes it easy to go anywhere," said junior defensive back De'Vante Cross. "At the end of the day, it's the same game no matter where you play it."

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