UVA goes three QB: And, it almost worked, kinda, sorta

Ira Armstead

Iraken Armstead gets to the corner on a 4-yard TD run. Photo courtesy UVA Athletics.

Give UVA offensive coordinator Robert Anae credit for making the most of what he had to work with.

Missing starting quarterback Brennan Armstrong, Anae devised a scheme that rotated career backup Lindell Stone, shoulder-injured grad transfer Keytaon Thompson and three-star true freshman Iraken Armstead.

The statline – 420 yards total offense, the second-best offensive output of the 2020 season, actually – will tell you, hey, not bad.

“I thought that gave us the best chance to move the football,” head coach Bronco Mendenhall said of the unique approach, which for the most part used Stone in passing situations, and Thompson and Armstead in wildcat.

Stone threw the ball 42 times. Thompson, still hampered by a shoulder injury suffered when he was competing for the QB1 job in camp, didn’t throw the ball, but he ended up leading the team in rushing, gaining 71 yards on 10 tries.

Armstead did complete one of his three pass attempts, a 9-yard out to Billy Kemp in the second quarter, and gained 46 yards on six carries, including a 4-yard second quarter touchdown.

I wrote on Twitter during the game that what it seemed to me was that Anae was scheming three quarterbacks with diverse skillsets – Stone is a dropback passer, maybe (!) with a deficiency in arm strength; Thompson obviously can’t do anything right now in the passing game, but is a dynamic runner; and Armstead looks like the real deal, but he’s green as Kermit the Frog – into the best approximation of Bryce Perkins you can get from this roster in 2020.

Keytaon Thompson

Keytaon Thompson ran for 71 yards on 10 carries for UVA on Saturday at Wake Forest. Photo courtesy UVA Athletics.

“Each has a different skill set,” was how the much more diplomatic Mendenhall put it. “We’re looking for complete play at quarterback after losing Brennan. And so we tried to innovate and use them in a manner that would be helpful to us. I think, probably as you look at the statistics, you’ll probably see what happened both Ira and KT were probably around seven yards per rush. Ira’s scrambling ability probably added something to that. And so I thought, collectively, our approach, gave us a chance. We didn’t execute well enough to finish the game and to finish with the win, but I think it gave us a chance.”

Thompson, who had been getting reps at wideout, as Mendenhall and Anae just tried to find a way to get his athleticism on the field, said he thought the rotation worked well.

“We’ve been getting out to kind of slow starts and stuff like that, and I think it helped us, you know, jumpstart and it helped us in the running game a lot,” Thompson said. “I feel like Ira’s a great player, you know, he’s really fast. He got in the end zone, and that was really big for us. I got a few carries. I was able to get a few first downs. I feel like it helped, you know, and all the way up until the fourth quarter, I feel like we had a chance.”

Story by Chris Graham


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