No Warm-Up Games; UVa Football Opens Season Against ACC Foe Pitt
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The schedule for the UVa football team looks a little different this year.
Right at the top, in Week One, sits the reigning Coastal Division Champion Pittsburgh Panthers.
It's the first time since 2003 the Cavaliers will start the season with an ACC opponent.
"I have to like it, because that's what our schedule is," says head coach Bronco Mendenhall. "We'll make that our ideal, whether it is, or it isn't."
Both teams talked about playing with a sense of urgency, as there are a lot of downsides to starting the season with a league opponent.
Mendenhall says, "Conference race implications, playing on the road against a team we haven't beaten, and playing at a higher level, earlier, than what most teams can do, or are expected to do in their opening game."
Virginia opened at home against Richmond last season, while Pittsburgh took on Albany.
Panthers' head coach Pat Narduzzi says, "We don't have time to mess around, and maybe be ready, and have some things to clean up. I think the biggest change we're going to see is not with the coaches, and the preparation. It's going to be the players, and their attitude. They know this is a huge game."
The winner also gets a head start on the race to a division championship.
Pitt senior DB Dane Jackson says, "I think it's a great opportunity for us. It's a league game. Maybe it will determine a lot of things, so it's a good challenge."
"This is our first step back to the ACC, so if we win this, we're up one," adds Pitt senior WR Maurice Ffrench.
The Panthers beat the Cavaliers 23-13 at Scott Stadium last season.
UVa senior cornerback Bryce Hall says, "They're a tough team, every year. I don't think I've beaten them since I've been here."
"It's a good rematch," says Jackson. "They're always a tough opponent for us. We went up there last year, so they come to us, and it's going to be a good one."
Ffrench says, "I know they're going to come out good, and I know we're going to have a tough battle. It's just that we got to out-beat them."
With the game being the first on the schedule, the Panthers can spend extra time preparing for the Wahoos, and QB Bryce Perkins.
"He's a great quarterback," says Jackson. "We don't face many quarterbacks like him, week-to-week. When we get a chance, we accept the challenge, and go for it."
Narduzzi adds, "Bronco has done a heck of a job bringing the Cavaliers back to being very, very competitive. I know they'll give us their best game on August 31st."