It was an awful night for Virginia Football. Brennan Armstrong was a pregame scratch with his rib injury from two weeks ago, the offense couldn’t get going behind true freshman Jay Woolfolk, and the program still can’t draw 50,000 to Scott Stadium, even with Notre Dame as the opponent.
Actually, maybe it’s good that there were 13,000 empties for this one. That’s 13,000 less people that had to spend three hours and change watching this stinker, a no-frills 28-3 Notre Dame win.
The Irish, ranked seventh, on the fringe of the College Football Playoff, drew a good hand not having to match scores with Armstrong, the nation’s leader in total offense.
Instead, it got Woolfolk, and a dumbed-down game plan for the opening quarter-plus from offensive coordinator Robert Anae, who seemed intent on keeping his freshman from having to face too much in the way of unfriendly fire.
The result: nine yards of total offense for UVA in the first quarter, and 92 total in the first half, as Notre Dame opened up a 21-0 lead at the break.
The offense finally got some life in the third quarter, getting into the red zone on its first possession, which ended with a missed field goal, and having two other drives stall out in plus territory, one ending on a fourth-down sack.
Another promising drive ended, improbably, with a fourth-quarter field goal, which got Virginia on the board, but still left it a four-score game, and as such, made no sense, though coach Bronco Mendenhall will no doubt wax poetic on how, when you think about it, deep down, it made all the sense in the world.
Over-under on that part of the presser: 500 words.
The defense, maligned as it is, played, you know, OK, decent, whatever. There were scads of missed tackles, but for the most part, the D made Notre Dame earn what it got, which is to say, not a lot of big plays.
It’s all relative, but 423 yards of total offense and 28 points, for this group, not bad.
And, let’s be honest, 28 points doesn’t beat Brennan Armstrong.
Now, maybe the Irish push it more on offense if Armstrong is lighting up the scoreboard, but that’s not really their MO.
Jack Coan, as is typical, dinked and dunked his way to a 15-of-20, 132-yard night, with three TDs and one INT.
The Domers’ rushing attack gained 249 yards on 38 carries, led by Kyren Williams, who had 70 on 14 rushing attempts.
Woolfolk finished with respectable numbers – 18-of-33 passing for 196 yards, with two passes intercepted. The second, with less than a minute to go, should go on wideout Keytaon Thompson, who let a potential garbage-time TD pass bounce off his hands in the end zone.
Virginia still has its Coastal Division fate in its hands. Win at Pitt next week, and at home against Virginia Tech on Nov. 27, and the ‘Hoos are in Charlotte with an ACC championship on the line.
Which is why Armstrong was in street clothes for this one.
Doesn’t make the evening any less awful.
Feels like an opportunity missed.
Story by Chris Graham