Cavaliers prepare for second straight bowl appearance

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) -- It's back to the practice field for the Virginia Cavaliers as they prepare for the Belk Bowl match up against South Carolina in a little over two weeks.

UVA football knows how to put to bed the feeling of disappointment.
Falling short of a bowl game for five straight seasons and the latest heartbreaking overtime loss against in state foe Virginia Tech.
But there's one past point of reference that's proving helpful as they look toward this year's Belk bowl. Being their second straight, what it takes to win is fresh on their minds.
"We still got a goal on the table, to win a bowl game," junior defensive tackle Eli Hanback said.

Just getting to last year's Military Bowl was a victory for the Cavaliers. A 49-7 loss to Navy, an experience the main takeaway.

"I saw the benefit of having just been to postseason. That then took this what is it like and how does it work to that's what it is. That then led to if you want to go, you better prepare well so you can play well," head coach Bronco Mendenhall said.

Lessons learned last year took hold this year, exposing the weaknesses and reaffirming the strengths.

"I think it just showed us exactly where we were and what we need to improve on moving forward to get to where we wanna go," junior cornerback Bryce Hall said.

A long list of improvements head coach Bronco Mendenhall is determined to get right the second time around.

"Underestimated our depth. Underestimated the amount of work we could do to match with our roster at that point. And I underestimated simply the newness and novelty of going to postseason for this team. And what that would do and how it would affect their mindset. This feels a lot more like business as usual. I sense just a different maturity," he said.

Starters begin practice next week. In the meantime, dissecting South Carolina's film is number one on the priority list. The Hoos will have just over two weeks to be in best form for December 29's noon kickoff in Charlotte.