Improved Virginia prepares for stern test at Boise State

FILE - In this Sept. 17, 2016, file photo, Connecticut's Junior Joseph, left, tackles Virginia quarterback Kurt Benkert (6) during the first half of an NCAA college football game at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn. The two teams meet on Saturday. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) After three home games to start the season, Virginia has already matched its victory total of a year ago.

The Cavaliers (2-1) will get a better sense of how far they’ve come when they play at Boise State on Friday night.

In recent years, the Cavaliers have had a tendency to let a resounding victory inflate their self image, often leading to ensuing disappointment.

Coach Bronco Mendenhall sensed some of that from his team Monday, calling it ”growing pains” and needing ”meetings and practice to get the appropriate mindset.” Mindenhall wants to make it clear that Virginia’s 38-18 victory against Connecticut was old news and it is time to focus on the Broncos.

”The team, sometimes they kind of want me to be more animated after a good play on the sideline, and sometimes I think they want me to be more aggressive on a bad play on the sideline,” he said. ”The team meeting was to the point, accurate, fast and efficient this morning, and the players kind of looked like, `Is that it?’

”I don’t know if they were expecting confetti to come down from the ceiling or something, but it’s just right back to work.”

With Kurt Benkert throwing for a school record 455 yards against the Huskies, three Virginia receivers topped 100 receiving yards, another program first.

Like Mendenhall, wide receivers coach Marques Hagans didn’t get carried away, texting all three that the performances were long overdue.

”William & Mary wasn’t a historic day, but we had a good outing,” said Andre Levrone, who had four catches for 127 yards against UConn. ”We all made plays and we went on to Indiana and there was a little bit of a lag there. Any time you do have a big game, you have to be able to put it behind you and move forward to the next week so that’s what we’re looking to do this week. History was made. Whatever. That’s what we were supposed to do so we’re moving onto Boise State right now.”

The offensive performance Saturday, Virginia’s best under Mendenhall, made an impression on Boise State coach Bryan Harsin.

”The quarterback, he’s got seven touchdowns and one pick. I think they’re 17th in the country throwing the ball,” he said. ”Pretty good. A lot better than we are.”

The Broncos (2-1) actually will have more rest, having played at home against New Mexico the previous Thursday.

In light of Virginia’s short week to prepare, and a Wednesday flight to Idaho, the Cavaliers practiced without shoulder pads Monday. Mendenhall not only wants his team to get less wear this week, but to be ready for what he referred to the very aggressive nature the Broncos are known for bringing into games right away.

”They prefer to get out in front in kind shock and awe and gadget or trick or momentum or tempo or something unique and different,” he said.

After starting slowly in its first two games, Virginia finally got its first quarter offense rolling Saturday, but it was nothing like the quick strike approach the Broncos prefer. Instead, the Cavaliers drove 88 yards in 18 plays to Daniel Hamm’s 3-yard scoring run. The drive consumed 9:46, the longest by time in program history.

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