A quarterback controversy at UVA?

virginia footballDoes UVA have itself a quarterback controversy? You have to ask the question after Kurt Benkert was lifted in the fourth quarter of the Cavs’ 35-14 loss to North Carolina.

Benkert simply wasn’t good on Saturday, completing 19 of his 32 pass attempts for 126 yards.

Everything is wrong with those numbers: a completion rate of 59.3 percent directing a short-passing game that is predicated on the passer completing a high percentage of his throws, gaining just 7.0 yards per completion, an anemic 3.9 yards per attempt.

The only thing saving Benkert is that his backup, Connor Brewer, was that much worse in relief.

Brewer was 2-of-12 passing for six yards in the fourth quarter.

Last year’s starter, Matt Johns, threw a touchdown pass on a fake field goal in the second quarter.

Coach Bronco Mendenhall didn’t commit to Benkert being the starter next week against Louisville, but he also tried to downplay the decision to bench him this week.

“I felt it was necessary with the pressure that was going on Benkert, starting from the second half of the Pitt game through this game, it was wise just to have him step back and have him see it from a different perspective and take a breath and regroup,” Mendenhall said.

Benkert has indeed not looked the same since throwing a picksix at the end of the first half of UVA’s 45-31 loss to Pitt last week. He had led the Cavs to 28 first-half points and 270 yards of total offense prior to the interception.

Virginia scored three points in the second half on a late fourth quarter field goal, and gained just 109 yards after halftime, as Benkert completed just seven of his 21 pass attempts for 93 yards.

The Cavs had just 253 yards of total offense against North Carolina, which had allowed opponents to gain 450.7 yards per game coming in.

Mendenhall tried to talk around a question about the picksix having lingering effects on Benkert, before seeming to agree that maybe it has had an impact.

“Between now and moving toward Pitt and moving toward North Carolina and getting to ACC play, we are getting a clearer idea of where we are, and each player is and Kurt is really visible,” Mendenhall said. “I think the combination maybe of the second half a week ago and then some of the pressure he was getting early, I can’t speak for him, but it looks like he isn’t quite as confident and poised, but that by no means rejected or dejected, it just simply means it’s time to regroup.”

Benkert commented after the game that he was “frustrated” at being benched, “just because I’m a competitor, and I wanted to finish the game and try to win the game, but I understand why the coaches did it.”

Story by Chris Graham