Wahoos won't reduce Perkins' role in offense

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Robert Anae drew one of his interesting analogies when asked this week about the balance between using Bryce Perkins as a playmaker in the Virginia offense, and keeping the Cavaliers' quarterback healthy.

"It's like when you jump in your car and you drive down the freeway," UVA's offensive coordinator said. "You don't want to be reckless. Hit the speed limit and try to drive defensively. Our quarterback's kind of in the same boat there."

"Here come the guys, and they're trying to really tackle and be physical, and Bryce makes a bad play work," Anae added. "And then boom, next thing you know there's more yards."

Through two games, Perkins' numbers won't leap off the stat sheet. The senior has completed 60 percent of his passes for 373 yards and four touchdowns -- to four different receivers. He also threw a pair of interceptions last Friday night against William and Mary that the quarterback himself conceded were caused by bad decisions while trying too hard to make a play.

Perkins is also UVA's leading rusher through two games, with 112 yards and one touchdown on 25 carries. His longest run on the season is a 27-yarder on a busted third-down play at Pitt that helped set up the Cavaliers' go-ahead field goal in the third quarter.

But the one thing missing from Perkins' performances in the Wahoos' first two games has been the explosiveness he displayed so often last season, when he set nearly a half-dozen new single-season school records at UVA.

Both head coach Bronco Mendenhall and Perkins himself conceded this week that the quarterback hasn't been 100 percent early this season. Perkins said he "tweaked" his right knee in preseason camp, and he has worn a brace on that right knee in UVA's first two games.

Perkins was also visibly a different player late last season, after hurting an ankle in the Wahoos' loss at Georgia Tech. When asked this week about the knee brace, Perkins downplayed his latest injury.

"My knee is feeling really good. Now it's just more of kind of a precaution, just until I'm 100 percent," Perkins said. "But I feel good out there running. I barely even notice. It's not really hindering anything."

Mendenhall has long maintained the obvious importance of keeping Perkins healthy, based on his role in the Cavaliers' offense. But UVA's head coach also says the quarterback must remain a threat to run with the football to help that offense be its most effective.

"It's part of our design for him regardless of opponent, and we think that it's essential that he does run, not only in designed runs, but creative and scramble runs, to have us be successful as a team" Mendenhall said. "That's one of the things that makes him and us difficult to stop when that's going well. So there are traditional runs and passes and traditional plays, and then there is just Bryce. I'm for just Bryce plays."

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