Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall is well aware that he's likely one of the few members of the Cavaliers program that knew Abilene Christian fielded a football team.
The Cavaliers (3-4), who have won two in a row, will host the Wildcats (1-4) on Saturday.
“Having been someone that coached at New Mexico, and traveling West Texas and Angelo State and Abilene Christian and … I’m certainly aware of the program’s existence,” Mendenhall said this week.
The matchup, arranged when the Cavaliers had several potential opponents decide not to play football in the fall because of the coronavirus pandemic, will be the first between the programs, and while a Football Championship Subdivision team would seem an easy mark for Virginia, Mendenhall knows better than to count on that.
“Having coached at the I-AA level and being a junior college coach and working my way through different leagues, I learned really early on the quality of coaching isn’t level specific,” he said. "I’ve seen amazing high school coaches and I visited some professional facilities where I wasn’t that impressed. Same thing with the different levels of college football, so I think the coaching is very strong. I think the schemes are very sound.
“Normally, the biggest difference is the depth of players in the roster and the quality of players throughout the entire roster. Then you’ll see players at any given spot where you’d say ‘man, that’s impressive’, and this is no different. I’m impressed with the scheme, with the strategy and with the overall, the way the program is run," he said.
The Wildcats, whose game with Arizona Christian scheduled for last Saturday was canceled because of COVID-19 issues with the visitors, have never faced a school from Virginia, and their only games against an Atlantic Coast Conference team came against Florida State in the 1950s, with the Wildcats winning two of three.
“It's just a unique opportunity and we've got to make the most of it,” Wildcats coach Adam Dorrel said.
Some other things to watch for when Abilene Christian plays at Virginia:
SOME OF EVERYTHING
Virginia QB Brennan Armstrong has three games this season with at least 200 passing yards, 40 rushing yards, 1 passing touchdown and 1 rushing touchdown. UVA is 3-0 this season when Armstrong meets those marks. His three games with those numbers are tied for No. 1 in the nation this season with Sam Ehlinger (Texas), Asher O’Hara (MTSU) and Malik Willis (Liberty).
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
The Wildcats' game at Virginia will be their fourth road game in six games. They have had home games against West Texas A&M and Arizona Christian canceled because of COVID-19 outbreaks.
Virginia linebacker Charles Snowden has six sacks, 21 tackles and nine tackles for a loss in his last three games. He finished with five sacks All of last season.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has adjusted the number of fans allowed to attend games from 1,000 to 250. Virginia has already limited fans able to attend to family and friends.
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