Spring practice is only just beginning, but there’s already a sense around the Cavaliers camp junior college transfer Bryce Perkins could jump start the UVA offense in ways the Cavs haven’t seen in Mendenhall’s two seasons.
Anything to boost optimism is welcome as Virginia heads into 2018 season off a 49-7 pounding from Navy in the Military Bowl. In fact, overall enthusiasm for UVA’s first bowl season since 2011 was tempered by the fact the Cavs scored just 14 points in the final 10 quarters.
For all Benkert did for the passing game, throwing for 3,207 yards, he was no threat in the running game and didn’t manage to cross the goal line with his legs all season.
Perkins, who began his career at Arizona State before leading Arizona Western to the JUCO national championship game, is a true dual threat and closer to the Taysom Hill mold of Mendenhall’s ideal quarterback than anyone he’s had on the roster to date at UVA.
Which, again, is not a knock on Benkert. The former East Carolina quarterback left the Pirates after spring practice two years ago while Virginia was still looking for an upgrade at QB before Mendenhall’s first season. With ex-ECU coach Ruffin McNeill on staff, it was a mutually beneficial, if not perfect, marriage.
But this season, with Perkins in for spring practice, it will become more fair to judge Mendenhall and offensive coordinator Robert Anae.
UVA wide receivers coach Marques Hagans, himself an excellent dual-threat QB during the Al Groh era, said Perkins is the most explosive player Virginia has had in years and the rest of the team has raved about the addition as well.
“I think he can create a ton of problems with his feet,” center Dillon Reinkensmeyer said. “He’s extremely athletic, extremely mobile and can throw the ball really well.”
At 6-3, 215 pounds, Perkins is closer in size and ability to the former BYU standout Hill than anyone Mendenhall has signed since leaving BYU for Virginia.
With the graduation of wide receivers Doni Dowling and Andre Levrone, along with new faces on the offensive line, it’s critical the Cavs become less one dimensional after dead last in the ACC in rushing.
Could Perkins single-handedly change the dynamic of the Virginia offense? If nothing else he’s certainly brought some excitement to spring drills.