UVA Football: It’s back to the drawing board on offense for the ‘Hoos
Perkins (3,530 yards passing, 769 yards rushing, 33 total TDs) is set to hear his name called in this week’s NFL Draft, along with wideouts Joe Reed (77 catches, 769 yards, 7 TDs) and Hasise Dubois (75 catches, 1,062 yards, 6 TDs).
Sending Anae back to the drawing board, with rising sophomore Brennan Armstrong set to take over at QB, Terrell Jana (73 catches, 878 yards, 3 TDs) poised to become the #1 wideout, and some work to do to figure out the rest of it.
“The whole time that those guys have been in place, we’ve also been training and developing players behind them. And we have a pretty good idea of what guys now in the program can do that those guys could do. But nothing lines up exactly from from top to bottom. Nothing will totally be exactly the same from top to bottom. But I will say there are things that guys in the program have demonstrated pretty good competency, and so there will be things that look a little different next year,” Anae said.
With change being in order in the skills positions, the one area that you don’t think about that all that much will be stronger than ever for Anae and the UVA offense.
The O line returns seven guys who got significant playing time in 2019, giving the offense a nice foundation to build on for 2020, particularly providing a nice building block for a running game that struggled this past season.
“The run game is all about being physical, and you’ve got to develop your pad level. You’ve got to be able to master your assignments to multiple things, movements and alignments, and yeah, you need all of that to be better in the run game,” Anae said.
“We have spent four years recruiting and developing our offensive line. And going into this season, we’re at the best spot in that regard with, one, with depth. So, there’s going to be competition for the guys up front. And number two, for the most part, they now have a couple of years of experience in doing what they’re doing. So, I think with those two things, the run game will have a bright prospect.”
UVA does return its starter at tailback, rising junior Wayne Taulapapa (473 yards, 12 TDs) as the anchor of the running-back rotation, so that should be a help as well.
And there is depth at wideout with rising juniors Billy Kemp (35 catches, 289 yards, 1 TD), Tavares Kelly (14 catches, 152 yards, 1 TD) and rising sophomore Dontayvion Wicks (3 catches, 61 yards, 1 TD) competing for time.
The key will be the development of Armstrong, who is in his third year in the program, after backing up Perkins for two seasons, one of them a redshirt season, in 2018, in which he was able to get some live game action.
It will be a challenge getting Armstrong up to speed without a spring practice schedule.
“Have we been able to develop our quarterback since January? No, we haven’t. And usually to develop your quarterback, you have to do that in a 11-on-11 setting. That’s where the biggest growth takes place. And there’s been none of that since the bowl game. So yes, it’s a challenge,” Anae said.
“But I will say this, Brennan Armstrong has not started his development in January. No, Brennan came early. And so, he’s been in the program, he is a program vet. And again, if we, if we can deliver on what we claim to be, which is a developmental program, then that applies to the quarterback.”
Story by Chris Graham