Virginia set to take on Boston College on Homecomings weekend

The Cavaliers will look to clinch a bowl berth for the first time since 2011

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Senior quarterback Kurt Benkert and Virginia will look to take down Boston College and secure their first bowl berth since 2011. 

Mariana Fraser | Cavalier Daily

The Cavaliers (5-1, 2-0 ACC) are one win away from earning bowl eligibility and will look to clinch that sixth win Saturday when ACC opponent Boston College comes to Scott Stadium. 

Despite what the two teams’ records indicate, Saturday’s game against the Eagles (3-4, 1-3 ACC) will be a tough one for Virginia. Boston College is coming off of a huge 45-42 win over Louisville, who was ranked as high as 17th in the country just two weeks ago. The Eagles will be looking to build on the momentum they’ve gained and win a game on the road against a surging Virginia team. 

Virginia will have its hands full going up against Boston College’s freshman running back AJ Dillon. Last week against Louisville, Dillon went off for 272 yards and four touchdowns on 39 carries. Virginia Coach Bronco Mendenhall talked about going up against such a physical running back like Dillon. 

“It will be a different test … You have to have a stomach for contact in this kind of game because your gap is your gap regardless of the number of times the 240-pound back smashes in there with another body puller,” Mendenhall said. “You can't ever get tired of taking that on. That's the kind of game Boston College likes to play.”

Senior quarterback Kurt Benkert talked about the challenges the Virginia offense will face, going up against Boston College’s defense. 

“They’re really big up front, their DBs [defensive backs] are tall, lengthy guys, and they’re aggressive, they’re not afraid to come in and hit somebody,” Benkert said. “Same with their safety, they use their linebackers in a lot of different ways … so it’s just going to be about staying focused and seeing it as it’s happening.”

In addition, Benkert talked a little about going up against the Eagles’ senior defensive end, Harold Landry, who will look to disrupt Benkert’s rhythm and play Saturday. 

“He’s got a really good motor, he’s strong, he’s really strong; I think it was … Louisville or Clemson, one of the two games I was watching, that he just one-armed a tackle right into the quarterback,” Benkert said. “That’s impressive so he’s a — he looks like a freak to me on film, so we’ll see how he is on Saturday.”

Virginia is heading into Saturday’s game with a lot of confidence, having won four games in a row, including two straight ACC games. 

“It’s really good,” Benkert said. “We know we have a really good defense. We know that we have a really good offense that hasn’t hit our full potential yet, and we know that if we keep making improvements each week, we’ll get where we want to be.”

“Now that there have been some results that have gone in our favor, there's an air of confidence and expectations that they would be disappointed if they don't play at a certain level or have the success in terms of wins and losses,” Mendenhall said. 

Even though the team is just a win away from a bowl game, Mendenhall knows the team has to focus on playing one week at a time. That means the focus this week should be on playing Boston College and coming away with a win. 

“We will acknowledge [the prospect of bowl eligibility]. I don't have a thing to say about it right now,” Mendenhall said. “Haven't mentioned it to our team … I think any additional talk about it, again, you've heard me say the term 'interference.’ Anything that's not helping us play this week with our assignments and improving our technique and our intensity is just a waste of time.”

However, despite the team focusing on Boston College, this does not mean they haven’t thought about going to a bowl game. 

“Sure, the team has that goal,” Mendenhall said. “They're anxious to return to postseason play, to see and feel what that's like.”

The Cavaliers will also look to continue forcing turnovers this weekend against Boston College. They have nine turnovers through the first six games of the season so far. Turnovers have been coming at a faster rate compared to last season for the Cavaliers. The team had nine turnovers throughout the entire season last year. The uptake in turnovers has been another striking number that has showcased how much better the team is this year than it was last year. 

Mendenhall attributes this increase in forced turnovers to the ability of his coaching staff to continue helping players improve over time, as they gain more and more experience. 

“Experience and coaching and time,” Mendenhall said. “Coach Howell, there's a reason I brought him with me here. I think he's a very, very good football coach, not only schematically, but technically.”

The game between Virginia and Boston College is scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Scott Stadium. 

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