Roughly nine months ago, Clemson and Virginia met in the 2019 ACC Championship game with the Tigers cruising their way to a fifth straight conference crown.
The two are set to meet again on Saturday night in Death Valley as the Virginia Cavaliers (1-0) visit for the first time since 2009, which resulted in a 34-21 Clemson (2-0) win.
"I'm thrilled to be able to get a chance to play Clemson again," Mendenhall said during his Monday morning media availability. "Having earned the chance to play them in the ACC Championship game last year, it accelerated our program and exposed deficiencies. We learned so much about that setting, that stage, and that opponent. We're anxious to learn and apply and improve from what we showed a year ago."
Despite losing to the Tigers 62-17 that night, all wasn't lost and Mendenhall elected to turn a negative into a positive and use the game as a measuring stick for where his program is in his fifth year.
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"Without that game and the outcome of that game and how it was played, we wouldn't have been as effective or played the way we did against Florida. (A 36-28 loss to the Gators in the Capital One Orange Bowl) So, I thought we played a better football game against Florida because of what we learned in our game against Clemson," Mendenhall said.
Now, Virginia is ready to see just how much it learned from those experiences late last season as Mendenhall looks to build off a 9-5 campaign, which included wins over North Carolina, Florida State and Virginia Tech.
"The best teams on the biggest stages accelerates growth so every time we have a chance to be in a settling against a quality opponent, growth happens faster in that state. Especially going into year five." Mendenhall said.