Virginia opens with shutout win over William & Mary

uva footballWhat can you say about a 43-0 whuppin’ that was supposed to be a 43-0 whuppin’?

There were people in the press box Saturday night complaining that it wasn’t a better 43-0 whuppin’.

It was only 10-0 UVA late in the second quarter when former UVA coach Mike London, now manning the sidelines for William & Mary, did a Mike London.

Virginia was assessed for a holding call on a second-and-10 at its own 25.

Brennan Armstrong had completed a pass to Mike Hollins for two yards on the play, making it third-and-eight, if London were to decline the penalty.

That, or it would be second-and-20 from the 15, inside of three minutes to go.

London declined the penalty, Armstrong connected with Billy Kemp IV for 17 yards and a first down, and the drive eventually hit paydirt with Armstrong scoring on a short run that made it 17-0 at the break.

That still wasn’t good enough for everybody.

One reason: the traditional run game that we had been told in training camp would be a point of emphasis … was not.

Offensive coordinator Robert Anae called 19 running plays in the first half, but only five of them went to running backs – the other 14 going to quarterbacks, including fourth-string QB Jacob Rodriguez.

The run game stats would eventually look just fine – 206 yards on 32 totes all said.

It did kind of feel a bit gimmicky in that first half, though. There were two failed fourth-down runs on wildcat plays that felt unnecessary, considering Virginia has the deepest and most experienced O line in the ACC, and the team on the other side of the ball was picked 11th in the CAA, a good FCS conference, sure, but, still, it’s FBS.

Armstrong was just 9-of-17 passing in the first half, but again, eventually, the numbers looked good – he finished 21-of-31 for 339 yards, two TDs and a 180.9 passer rating, with two more TDs on the ground.

Why he was still in the game leading the final scoring drive inside of seven minutes left in the fourth quarter is anybody’s guess.

The defense was stout, limiting the Tribe to 183 total yards, but again, this is a not-very-good FCS team for a reason.

What you get from this one: the offense, overusing the word eventually here, eventually got going, put up 545 yards, and certainly put a lot on tape for Illinois, which lost 37-30 to Texas-San Antonio tonight, to try to prepare for.

Anae used Keytaon Thompson and Ira Armstead at wildcat quarterback, running back, slot receiver and out wide; used Rodriguez in the backfield at running back; Armstrong lined up for a handful of snaps at wideout, and was used on a reverse that got blown up before he could throw a pass as intended out of that play call.

Thompson ended up being the leading receiver, with 66 yards on five catches, on six targets, and added 43 yards on the ground, including a 40-yard run on a wildcat on a third-and-one.

Dontayvion Wicks had 94 yards on four catches, on eight targets.

Ra’Shaun Henry and Demick Starling had the TD catches.

Kemp had 55 yards on four catches, on six targets, and a 55-yard punt return.

Linebacker Nick Jackson had 12 tackles, Joey Blount eight.

I’ll have more on the defense when I study the Pro Football Focus grades later.

Good win. Still not good enough for some folks.

Story by Chris Graham


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