CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall knew rebuilding a woeful Cavaliers football program back up wouldn't be an overnight success. Coaching a two-win team however, is something not many can endure.
On the final day of the ACC Kickoff, Mendenhall and his commonwealth foe Justin Fuente opened up about the first-year in their new programs.
"I'm not used to losing more than winning," said Mendenhall to the media on Friday. "I think if you're not careful in the sport you can be defined only by winning and losing."
The Cavaliers will bank on senior quarterback Kurt Benkert, who said he's fully healed from his ACL surgery prior to coming to UVA. On the defensive side of the ball, the quarterback is free safety Quin Blanding.
The decorated Virginia Beach native came back for his senior season although he had promising draft prospects. "I trust the system, I trust the process." said Blanding. "Why not go one more year, why not go out with a bang and increase the status of Virginia."
The Hokies will have to fill multiple voids on offense, after the loss of quarterback Jerod Evans, and their top two receivers in Isaiah Ford and Bucky Hodges. Cam Phillips is the top returning receiver for the Hokies and he's not shying away from a leadership role.
"With great coaching, which is very important, I think the senior leadership, the experience that we have, I think that can help us bring along some of these young guys," said Phillips.
Hokies head coach Justin Fuente came from Memphis and lit a fire into the program and fanbase, but instilling his culture at first was all about baby steps. "We started just trying to recognize small victories," said Fuente. "You really have no idea how long it's going to take. There's just so many things beyond your control. Some things accelerate it, some things slow it down."
Virginia opens the season against William & Mary on September 2nd. The Hokies will open their season up at FedEx Field on September 3rd.