Keytaon Thompson, FBP, keys Virginia passing attack from the outside

Keytaon Thompson
Keytaon Thompson. Photo courtesy UVA Athletics.

Bronco Mendenhall brought Keytaon Thompson in last year expecting the Mississippi State transfer to compete for the starting QB job, and didn’t hold that thinking back from the presumed starter, Brennan Armstrong.

“That’s the way we presented it, that he would have every chance to be our quarterback. We also told Brennan that prior, that we were going to have a competition, that we were going to recruit a graduate transfer, and we thought it would make our entire team and program better. Brennan welcomed that,” Mendenhall said Monday in his weekly presser.

Things didn’t work out as planned, as you know, but because they didn’t, it all maybe worked out better than anyone could have ever dreamed.

Armstrong is currently leading the nation in passing yards (2,460 yards, an eye-popping 410.0 yards per game), and Thompson is a key reason why.

KT has 30 catches on 48 targets – five catches on eight targets per game – for 436 yards, 14.5 yards per reception, with an additional 127 yards on 18 rushing attempts, 7.1 yards per carry, and two TDs on the ground.

All of this adds up to a Pro Football Focus season grade of 78.0, with snaps at wideout, tailback and quarterback.

Not bad for a guy who, this time a year ago, was nursing a torn labrum in his right shoulder, which forced him into the slash role, and has had to play the last three weeks with a broken hand.

“He embraced everything he could do, can do, will do to help this program, in just a really special way with never anything other than optimism, hope, work, and then becoming what the team needs him to be,” said Mendenhall, who lists Thompson as FBP – “football player” – on the depth chart each week.

Thompson’s contributions to the offense were highlighted in his breakout performance last week in the 34-33 win at Louisville.

KT had 10 catches on 16 targets – these numbers were updated postgame from nine catches on 15 targets – for 149 yards, and added a 5-yard TD run.

Four of the catches and 85 of the yards came in the fourth quarter as UVA fought its way out of a 30-13 hole.

“I think the two of them, and I’m not going to say single-handedly, because that wouldn’t be reflective or accurate, but the two of them played a critical role in our last drive, fourth-down conversions, and being on the same page with lots of improvisation going on the last drive,” Mendenhall said. “Those plays were as designed and those were coverage recognitions adjusted and read by both the quarterback and the quarterback playing football at a football player position at the same time that were just completely in sync.

“Yeah, it was just amazing to witness and watch, and I’m so lucky they’re both on our team,” Mendenhall said.

Story by Chris Graham

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