Unfamiliar foes: UVA, Clemson meeting for first time since 2013

ACC Championship GameClemson coach Dabo Swinney couldn’t remember when his team last played Virginia. A reporter reminded him: 2013.

“Is that when it was? OK,” Swinney said Sunday as he talked with reporters on a teleconference about the upcoming ACC Championship Game matchup with UVA.

Math says 2013 was only six years ago, but so, so, so much has changed for both sides since then.

Clemson, for one, has won two national championships.

And then, on the Virginia side …

The ‘Hoos lost that Nov. 2, 2013 game, 59-10. David Watford was the starting quarterback. Mike London was the head coach, on his way to a 2-10 record that season.

One of those two wins, inexplicably, came over a BYU team coach by Bronco Mendenhall.

Yes, that Bronco Mendenhall, who would eventually pack up his staff to move east to Charlottesville, to begin the rebuild that the 2-10 finish in 2013 foretold as being in the cards down the line.

It will be Mendenhall’s first time preparing for Clemson.

“It certainly is a challenge because there are no existing reference points or shared experiences of a coach or a team that you can refer to that are relevant,” Mendenhall said in his teleconference call on Sunday.

“I don’t have any experience against Clemson or Coach Swinney or really any of their existing players. So, really at that point the focus certainly has to be really more on your own scheme, your own strategy, your own execution, your own position mastery, mindset, everything that you can control. My job hopefully is to predict and assess and plan for in the very best way I can of what the opponent will be like and move from there,” Mendenhall said.

Defensive tackle Eli Hanback, whose fumble recovery for a TD with 1:01 to go helped clinch Virginia’s 39-30 victory over Virginia Tech that sent the ‘Hoos to the big game, admitted to catching some of Clemson’s 38-3 win over South Carolina on Saturday on TV.

“There was a lot of good games on. I was kind of flicking around,” Hanback said Monday. “A lot of us have already started watching film on them to get ready to play this weekend. That’s one of the big things that goes into preparation, is film study. It’s something you have to be locked in on and ready to go. Yeah, myself and teammates have already started doing that, yeah.”

Linebacker Charles Snowden told reporters on Monday that at this point he’s familiar with Clemson “kind of from a fan perspective.”

“I haven’t necessarily watched too much as an opponent, X’s and O’s type manner,” Snowden said. “I have a sense of what they like to do, their style of play, their tempo, their culture.

“Now I’m looking forward to getting into their scheme, what they’re trying to attack, their strengths and weaknesses,” Snowden said.

Story by Chris Graham

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