CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- Bronco Mendenhall admitted to some mixed feelings going into the Virginia football team's bye week.
"We're getting better. And we're getting better because of the work we're putting in and the urgency we're putting in," the first-year coach of the Cavaliers said after Saturday's 34-20 UVA win at Duke. "So this isn't a normal bye. This is a work bye, and I expressed those expectations to the players, so they get it."
The Cavaliers improved to 2-3 with that victory last weekend. It snapped the program's 17-game losing streak on the road, and marked the first back-to-back wins for the UVA program since midway through that 2014 season. That was also the last time the Wahoos opened ACC play 1-0.
Mendenhall said the Wahoos would have meetings but no practice on Monday, and would then approach the rest of the week with a normal schedule. Mendenhall's teams went 9-4 following bye weeks in his 11 seasons as head coach at BYU.
"At the same time we want to keep playing, but it's going to be nice to give our bodies a little bit of a break and the week off," UVA quarterback Kurt Benkert said Saturday. "But we still have work to do. We're still going to work hard, but just kind of the physical contact, taking that a little bit away is going to be good for this week, week-and-a-half."
The bye week gives UVA an extra week to get healthier before a three-game ACC homestand that starts October 15 against Pittsburgh. Defensive linemen Andrew Brown and Jack Powers both left Saturday's win with undisclosed injuries. Brown is second on the defense in both sacks (2.0) and tackles for loss (4.5), while Powers is tied for the team lead with three pass break-ups.
UVA also played at Duke without defensive backs Myles Robinson and Darious Latimore, who were both ruled out before the game with lower body injuries.
"I'm not going to lie, we definitely need it," UVA linebacker Micah Kiser said Saturday. "A lot of guys are playing a lot of plays, so we're pretty tired. But we're going to go in here, we're going to keep getting better. We're going to work really hard this bye week, and get ready for Pitt."
Kickoff Time Set for Homecomings
That Pitt game will kick off at 12:30 p.m. on October 15, the ACC announced on Monday. It will be Homecomings at UVA, and an opportunity for the Wahoos to improve to 2-0 in the conference for the second time in three seasons.
The Panthers host Georgia Tech this Saturday before travelling to Charlottesville. Pitt will go into that game at 3-2 overall this season and 0-1 in the ACC, following a 43-27 non-conference win at home against Marshall last weekend.
The Panthers lost 37-36 at North Carolina the previous weekend to open ACC play.
ACC Recognizes Cavaliers' Thornhill
UVA's Juan Thornhill has been named the ACC's Defensive Back of the Week for his performance in the win at Duke.
Thornhill had first-quarter and fourth-quarter interceptions for the Wahoos. They were the first and last of five picks as a team for UVA, which matched the school single-game record. Thornhill also had four tackles and a pass break-up.
The sophomore is the first UVA player to earn an ACC weekly honor this season. It's the first of Thornhill's career.
Despite a career-high 18 tackles on Saturday, Kiser was not named the league's linebacker of the week. That honor went to Clemson's Ben Boulware, who also had a career-best 18 tackles in the Tigers' dramatic 42-36 win over Louisville. Boulware finished with three tackles for loss, a fumble recovery, and a pass deflection. Kiser had two tackles for loss, including a sack, and a pair of pass break-ups.