Extra Bowl Practices Helping Cavaliers Improve
By making it to a bowl game, the UVa football team earned an extra few weeks of practice, and for players like sophomore Charles Snowden, the extra practice last year provided a springboard into this season.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Virginia football team will take on South Carolina in the Belk Bowl on December 29th in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Cavaliers will travel to the Queen City on Christmas Day.
There are a few fun activities sprinkled in, like driving on a NASCAR track, and the game kicks off at noon next Saturday.
It's the reward that comes with making a bowl game.
Also included: extra practices, and the coaches will tell you, that's the most important part.
Teams that don't make a bowl are done for the year, while the bowl-bound schools have an extra few weeks to work on whatever they want.
Linebacker Charles Snowden finished third on the team with 61-tackles this season, and was second in tackles for a loss (7.5), sacks (2.5), and interceptions (2).
The 6-foot-7 sophomore says last year's bowl practices were a springboard to this year.
"It's definitely helped a lot," says Snowden, "just kind of developing our will. We always say 'Will before skill,' so developing that, and just the physicality and the mindset of it just helps a lot. I think the biggest take away for me personally, was just the physicality and aggression. That definitely carried over for me, and carried over for me into this season."
Head coach Bronco Mendenhall adds, "I think this season, and the progress we've made, is reflective of not only who we've brought to our program through the last two recruiting classes, but again, when you get extra practices, that accelerates your program, and when you're able to do that back-to-back, it's invaluable. So we've got the equivalent of a Spring and a half, and that's really helpful."
Like the Cavaliers, the Gamecocks go into the Belk Bowl with a record of 7-5.
South Carolina is looking to get to eight wins for just the fifteenth time in their 125-years of football.
Virginia has won at last eight games twenty-one times, with the last coming in 2011.
The UVa players have said the Gamecocks play an ACC-style of football, with speed on both sides of the ball.
South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley says they haven't faced a team like Virginia all year.
"The scheme that they have is unique, and they do a great job of running it," says Bentley. "They're very good defensively, so we're going to have to play good, and prepare well."
Junior linebacker T.J. Brunson adds, "That narrative of SEC/ACC, whatever it is, whatever is true, just let it ride. I don't really care, at the end of the day."