Virginia football coach Bronco Mendenhall and his staff got to work quickly upon arriving back in Charlottesville following a disheartening 59-39 loss to No. 21 North Carolina on Saturday night, during which the Cavaliers allowed an astonishing 699 yards of total offense.

Mendenhall, coordinator Nick Howell and the defensive assistants reviewed game film and pinpointed a handful of corrections they planned to install heading into Friday night’s game against undefeated Wake Forest at Scott Stadium.

With one fewer day than usual to prepare, though, prevailing wisdom suggests doing so comes with an elevated degree of difficulty. Mendenhall, who frequently thinks in unconventional terms regarding strategy, doesn’t necessarily see it that way.

“This might be counterintuitive,” Mendenhall said. “I see it as an advantage. Urgency, urgency, urgency. When you have a week like that and you have weaknesses exposed or you don’t play to your potential or you’re disappointed after some hard setback, man, I like kind of being under the gun, and so, sincerely, I believe that could be helpful.”

The Cavaliers (2-1) were on their heels defensively Saturday shortly after kickoff. On North Carolina’s first possession, quarterback Sam Howell needed just four plays to give his team a 7-0 lead on a 59-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Josh Downs.

Downs caught a 37-yard touchdown on North Carolina’s next series, which lasted three plays and covered 82 yards in 76 seconds. The Tar Heels needed one play on their third drive to expand the lead to 21-7 on Khafre Brown’s 75-yard touchdown catch.

Howell finished with 307 yards and five touchdowns on 14-for-21 passing, averaging 21.9 yards per completion. Downs had 203 yards and two touchdowns on eight receptions, at times running free and clear in the secondary with Virginia playing in soft coverage.

But it wasn’t just the passing attack that sliced through Virginia’s defense. The Tar Heels had two players surpass 100 yards rushing on the way to a team total of 392.

The dreadful defensive performance left Virginia ranked 11th out of 14 schools in the ACC in total defense (406.3 yards per game) and scoring defense (24.3 points per game).

“Execution was very inconsistent and poor at best,” Mendenhall said. “And lack of assignments and just basically being where we needed to be frequently or infrequently led to just lots and lots and lots of yards, plays, points, et cetera. We can certainly do a better job of preparing our players to give them their best chance as well.”

Priority No. 1 this week, according to Mendenhall, is preventing long gains that can flip momentum and deflate a defense. On North Carolina’s first three possessions, for instance, the Tar Heels did not have a play go for fewer than 11 yards with the exception of one incomplete pass.

“There are some schematic things or there are some strategic things that certainly can be addressed as well beside some technique things,” said Mendenhall, who is 7-6 since 2017 in the game immediately following a loss. “So rather than taking it, ‘Oh, man, there’s no chance,’ a couple things addressed would have made a huge difference in that game, and that’s really what I’m focusing on.”

Compounding the defensive woes was the absence of senior safety Nick Grant, who watched the game from the sideline in street clothes with an undisclosed ailment. Safety Joey Blount started but departed for good with an arm injury that left the senior wearing a sling.

Mendenhall indicated he expects both players to be available at full health to face the Demon Deacons, who are coming off a 35-14 win against Florida State behind an offense that ranks fifth in the conference in scoring (39.3).

Wake Forest is one of two ACC teams to average 30 points per game in each of the past four seasons. The other is Clemson, which has won two national championships during the College Football Playoff era.

“It’s pretty simple, right?” Mendenhall said of the Demon Deacons’ offense. “There’s a player in conflict most all the time if you choose to play zone, and if you chose to play man, they like the personnel they have at wide receiver, running back, quarterback, so they like their matchups. That’s led to that kind of point production for that long.”