CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WFXR) — Illinois head coach Bret Bielema remembers watching Virginia take the victory kneel against his team at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville last year.

And he also knows this year’s UVA squad looks pretty different from the team that won in 2021.

“Knew that we were going to have to play them this year,” Bielema said. “Not really expecting them to become a bowl eligible team. Obviously the transition with coach Mendenhall for whatever happened there, so now you’re dealing with a new head coach in coach (Tony) Elliott who has tremendous respect in our business.”

Bielema does know that the Cavaliers offense still has a strong quarterback in Brennan Armstrong.

“Obviously, Armstrong is a very talented left handed quarterback so it’s tough to simulate a left handed thrower. He’s a very impressive guy,” Bielema said.

The Cavaliers defeated Illinois, 42-14, in last year’s meeting. Armstrong threw for five touchdowns in that contest. Now as UVA hits the road for the rematch against the Fighting Illini, the fifth-year senior is looking just as good this year.

“I felt good just to be out there and going live. I haven’t been live and haven’t been hit in a long time,” Armstrong said. “Took some good licks out there so I’m probably sore. I’m just glad to be playing again.”

Armstrong threw two touchdowns and ran for another in the 34-17 season-opening win over Richmond over the weekend. His 64-yard score on the ground was part of a 105-yard rushing performance on Saturday and it helped break the school’s career total offense record.

But even after success, Armstrong says there’s always room for improvement.

“There’s a lot of work to work on,” Armstrong said. “It’s better to fix things when you’re 1-0 and coming off a win than off a loss so there’s tons of things to fix so coach Elliott talked about just if we’re a mature enough team to learn those things even after a win and to continue to get better.”

Virginia’s battle with Illinois is set for 4 p.m. Saturday in Champaign, IL.