Breaking down the upcoming quarterback battle at UVA with QBs coach Jason Beck
“Everywhere I’ve been, it’s emerged, and it’s happened, within the course of camp and progressing to the season, where one guy has taken control and emerged above another guy,” said Beck, the quarterbacks coach at Virginia, talking about the upcoming competition for the starting job between redshirt sophomore Brennan Armstrong and grad transfer junior Keytaon Thompson.
“It’s usually the most preferable to have one leader that everybody’s building and working around,” Beck said. “Usually it works itself out. I’ve never been in a thing where both guys are just neck and neck, and there’s no real separation, that you feel good about calling, and you go into a game or two and let that play out. I’ve seen that happen at other places, but haven’t been a part of it myself.
“We’ll just let run its course, let guys compete, work hard and see, you know, how it unfolds and who emerges through that process.”
Armstrong had entered the spring as the prohibitive favorite to replace record-setting QB Bryce Perkins, after backing up Perkins the past two seasons, one as a redshirt.
The only other quarterback on the roster with any experience is senior Lindell Stone, a three-star recruit who clearly hasn’t impressed Beck or offensive coordinator Robert Anae enough to move up the depth chart.
Because the Anae-Beck offense is based on having the quarterback be a threat as a runner, there was an obvious need to add depth to the quarterback room.
“We knew we needed another guy in the room for competition, for depth, and for the stability of our program. And so, we’d been looking and kind of scouring all those options, even, you know, weighing the option of taking a transfer. And with that possible rule in April, they were talking about a one-time transfer, you know, that was the option we were looking at,” Beck said.
Enter Thompson, a four-star prep recruit who decided to leave Mississippi State after the school went through its second coaching change in his three years in Starkville.
Thompson, at 6’4”, 225 pounds, checks all the boxes for an Anae-Beck QB – big, athletic, strong arm.
“We were really excited with Keytaon when he came around. He’s a really good fit for what we do, both in terms of quality of player, but also quality of person,” Beck said. “Great reviews, you know, talking to previous coaches and people that know him, just about his work ethic, his leadership, the type of person he is. He’s a great fit for us here at Virginia, will give us great competition between him and Brennan.”
Is there a favorite at this point in the preseason? Probably not.
Regarding Armstrong, Beck praised his work ethic.
“He’s working hard,” Beck said. “He’s put more emphasis on nutrition, studying film, throwing with his buddies. So yeah, he’s, I mean, he’s really doing everything, working hard. He’s a competitor. He’s confident. He’s been ready to play the last couple years. And you know, he’s just making the most of this time and this opportunity to put himself in a position to be successful.”
With Thompson, it’s more unknowns at this point, to Beck.
“With (Kurt) Benkert coming in here as a transfer, with Bryce (Perkins) coming in as a transfer, you have an idea based off the film, and based off those conversations, but you never quite know until they get here, and things start working themselves out, exactly what that skill set is like,” Beck said. “We have an idea with Keytaon that we’re excited about, you know, good size, athleticism, good arm, strong arm and very capable passer. So, there’s a lot of things there that we’re excited about. You know, smart football IQ is really one. You know, high school, won both in football and basketball.
“There’s a lot of things there that we love and we’re excited about, but until we get him here and really start working with him for those first couple weeks, then we’ll have a much better feel for what his strengths are and what direction that will take us.”
Story by Chris Graham