CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Bronco Mendenhall is 6-6 in bowl games as a head coach. He says lessons have come from both those six wins and the six losses.
But he also says finishing a season with a win comes with a perk.
"It’s just more fun," Mendenhall said with a smile Friday morning. "Once you win, there’s just a different level of self-assuredness, of confidence. And the players look forward to arriving more each day because of the certainty of this work will equal that result.”
Mendenhall's 2018 Virginia football team can end its season with a win by beating South Carolina in Saturday's Belk Bowl. As of Friday afternoon, the Cavaliers were a 4 1/2-point underdog heading into the noon kickoff at Bank of America Stadium.
Mendenhall and a small group of players were representing UVA at Friday morning's Belk Bowl media day event at the Charlotte Convention Center. The UVA seniors on hand admitted that they're aware that no senior class at the school has won its final game since 2005.
They're focused on changing that on Saturday.
“Really just the leaders of the team, just setting the tone that we want to win the game," said running back Jordan Ellis. "Last year we were just kind of happy with being there.”
“There’s more clarity between business and pleasure. And that’s one thing that we always talked about with going into this," said wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus. "We have to be able to flip that switch. When it’s time to really work, we have to really work.”
For UVA quarterback Bryce Perkins, the Belk Bowl will be a chance to finish on a better note than how he ended the regular season. Perkins limped through the Cavaliers' final two games -- back-to-back overtime losses on the road at Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech -- after getting hurt early against the Yellow Jackets.
Perkins said Friday that his injured ankle -- and the pinkie on his right hand that he hurt against Louisville back in September -- both feel better than at any point since UVA's season started.
According to Ellis, Perkins has looked 100 percent in practice since before he spent the past few weeks getting healthy.
“He makes the offense go," Ellis said. "The defense has to account for him. It’s hard to keep up with him and then keep up with me, and then keep up with Olamide.”
“That time off, especially ending with a loss, you can’t wait to get to the next game so you can put that game behind you and just kind of build on that, and fix the mistakes from last game," Perkins said.