CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins knows he has to avoid “stupid plays” and stay within himself when the No. 25 Cavaliers take on Florida State this week.
He had thrown 145 passes in a row without being intercepted until throwing two against William & Mary last week.
Perkins said Tuesday that he “just got to play smarter and not try to do too much.”
The miscues against William & Mary were minimized by the Cavaliers’ dominant performance in a 52-17 victory again the Tribe. Now as Virginia prepares for an Atlantic Coast Conference game at home against the Seminoles (1-1) on Saturday, coach Bronco Mendenhall echoed Perkins’ comments, but said the quarterback’s body of work mitigates any concern.
“I think he had the longest streak in the country of not throwing an interception, so if that’s the case, I think you would view it is an aberration rather than something I’m worried about,” Mendenhall said.
Perkins has thrown for four touchdowns and run for another to lead Virginia (2-0, 1-0 ACC). He also leads Virginia in rushing with 112 yards through two games. Keeping him healthy is critical to Virginia’s success, but Mendenhall is not inclined to hold Perkins back.
“It’s part of our design for him regardless of opponent,” Mendenhall said of Perkins’ running, “and we think that it’s essential that he does run, not only in designed runs, but creative and scramble runs, to have us be successful as a team. That’s one of the things that makes him and us difficult to stop when that’s going well. There are traditional runs and passes and traditional plays, and then there is just Bryce. I’m for just Bryce plays.”
Perkins is not at 100 percent, having tweaked a knee in fall camp. He wears a brace in games as a precaution, and said he will continue to until he’s fully healed, but he hardly looked hampered bolting off the left edge for a 7-yard TD run against the Tribe. It was his 10th rushing touchdown in 15 games as Virginia’s quarterback.
“I want him to be confident, I want him to be assertive, and I want him to be fast thinking and aggressive,” Mendenhall said. “Part of that is through plays that maybe are off script. From the defensive side, that is really hard to handle. There is no design to stop that. If you do design for it, it takes away from something else.”
Perkins often provides a lift for the other members of the Virginia offense.
“Just having a dynamic quarterback as Bryce, especially his second year, he’s just more comfortable. The rest of us are more comfortable around him. Just fitting into each other’s style of play and being able to do a lot more, it’s a lot of fun,” fifth-year senior tight end Tanner Cowley, who is used primarily as a blocker, said.
Florida State has struggled defensively. The Seminoles escaped with a 45-44 overtime victory Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe after ULM missed the extra point after scoring a touchdown in overtime. The Warhawks ran for 178 yards, including 32 by quarterback Caleb Evans, but Seminoles coach Willie Taggart said the repairs are simple on defense.
“I think, again, what’s going to help the issues is being fundamentally sound and doing our jobs and making sure that we have a really solid game plan and stop them,” the Seminoles’ second-year coach said.
In Perkins’ mind, the Seminoles are still a member of college football’s elite.
“Oh man, a tremendous history of just great football players, great football program and definitely one of the teams, the handful of teams, that when you grew up you said, ‘Wow. That team is great,’” he said.
The game is set to kick off at 7:30 p.m.