augusta free press news

What Virginia, Virginia Tech fans need to know about each other’s teams

Commonwealth ClashThe one can score at will, can’t stop an opponent if lives depended on it. The other is good at stopping opponents, not good at getting out of its own way.

Fans, there you have it, Virginia vs. Virginia Tech, 2021 vintage.

Virginia scores 35.5 points per game, gives up 32.1. Virginia Tech scores 24.5, gives up 22.8.

This is why they’re right around .500 – the Cavaliers at 6-5, the Hokies at 5-6.

Put ‘em together, now, and you might have yourself a CFP contender, but we can’t do that, and besides, these guys, they don’t like each other anyway, so it would never work.


Brennan Armstrong is averaging 404.4 passing yards and 4.1 touchdowns per game, and still isn’t getting any Heisman love, entirely because of UVA’s porous defense, which ain’t his fault.

Virginia Tech QB1 Braxton Burmeister (165.4 passing yards per game, 36.9 rushing yards per game, 56.4% completion rate, 14 total TDs/4 INTs).

Armstrong has been pressured on 26.0 percent of his dropbacks, and has a 43.2 percent completion rate and 76.0 NFL passer rating on those dropbacks. Burmeister has been pressured on 33.0 percent of his dropbacks, and has a 33.9 percent completion rate and 53.9 NFL passer rating on those dropbacks.

Notable: Burmeister is best on deep balls (20+ yards downfield), with a 114.5 passer rating and four TDs (no INTs) on 47 deep passes (18 completions, 675 yards).

Virginia has shown itself to be quite, ahem, susceptible to deep balls, and also yards after catch.

Tech’s receiver corps has racked up 1,032 of its 2,012 yards through the air as yards after catch, led by wideout Tre Turner (282), tailback Raheem Blackshear (263) and wideout Tayvion Robinson (185).

Turner is the top target (40 catches/75 targets, 675 yards, 16.9 yards/catch), with Robinson a close second (41 catches/65 targets, 470 yards, 11.5 yards/catch).

Also need to keep an eye on Kaleb Smith (19 catches/34 targets, 250 yards, 13.2 yards/catch).

On the Virginia side, it’s a multi-headed monster, led by wideouts Keytaon Thompson (71 catches/102 targets, 899 yards, 12.7 yards/catch), Billy Kemp IV (66 catches/90 targets, 608 yards, 9.2 yards/catch), Dontayvion Wicks (54 catches/85 targets, 1,146 yards, 21.2 yards/catch) and Ra’Shaun Henry (32 catches/59 targets, 565 yards, 17.7 yards/catch) and tight end Jelani Woods (37 catches/62 targets, 534 yards, 14.4 yards/catch).

Virginia Tech is generally more effective at running the ball – 178.7 yards per game to Virginia’s 127.9, though both teams average 4.5 yards per attempt, so maybe it’s more a matter of the Tech scheme emphasizing the run a bit more.

Blackshear (103 attempts, 550 yards, 5.3 yards per carry) and Malachi Thomas (421 yards, 5.0 yards per carry) split the load in the backfield.

A little tell to watch for: Thomas is used more as a runner (85 of his 170 snaps are as a ball-carrier, just 58 as a receiver out of the backfield or pass blocker). Blackshear has run on 103 of his 356 snaps, and been used as a receiver out of the backfield or pass blocker on 211 snaps).

Wayne Taulapapa leads Virginia with a modest 56 rushing attempts (301 yards, 5.1 yards per carry). Taulapapa got 25 of the 58 snaps for tailbacks in last week’s loss at Pitt, splitting time with Mike Hollins (23 snaps last week, 197 yards on the season, 4.4 yards per carry) and Devin Darrington (10 snaps last week, 228 yards on the season, 7.9 yards per carry).


Virginia Tech gets more pressure on QBs (24 sacks, 176 pressures; Virginia has 15 sacks and 146 pressures) and is better in coverage (126.4 passer efficiency rating against; Virginia is allowing a 141.6 rating against this season).

The Hokies are also better against the run (174.6 yards per game; Virginia is allowing 217.3 yards per game on the ground).

Virginia names you’ll hear called a lot:

  • LB Nick Jackson: 107 tackles, 13 pressures, 2 sacks
  • S Joey Blount: 77 tackles, 1 sack, 3 INTs, 3 PBUs
  • LB Noah Taylor: 66 tackles, 17 pressures, 4 sacks
  • CB Anthony Johnson: 3 INTs, 5 PBUs, 65.2 NFL passer rating against
  • CB Darrius Bratton: 6 PBUs, 136.1 NFL passer rating against
  • S Nick Grant: 8 PBUs, 122.4 NFL passer rating against
  • LB Elliott Brown: 20 pressures
  • DE Mandy Alonso: 19 pressures, 3 sacks

Virginia Tech names you’ll hear called a lot:

  • S Nasir Peoples: 83 tackles, 113.6 NFL passer rating against
  • LB Dax Hollifield: 81 tackles, 14 pressures, 4 sacks
  • CB Armani Chatman: 1 INT, 7 PBUs, 65.8 NFL passer rating against
  • CB Dorian Strong: 5 PBUs, 68.8 NFL passer rating against
  • CB Jeramine Waller: 4 INTs, 5 PBUs, 73.2 NFL passer rating against
  • CB Chamarri Conner: 4 PBUs, 95.5 NFL passer rating against
  • DE Amare Barno: 28 pressures, 3.5 sacks
  • DE TyJuan Garbutt: 21 pressures, 3 sacks
  • DT Jordan Williams: 21 pressures, 3 sacks

Special Teams

Virginia Tech placekicker John Parker Romo is 30-of-30 on extra points and 15-of-19 on field-goal tries, with a long of 52 – 5-of-6 from 40-49 and 2-of-3 from 50+. Dude is a weapon.

Virginia placekicker Brendan Farrell is 31-of-31 on extra points and 10-of-12 on field-goal tries, with a long of 43 – 1-of-2 from 40-49 and 0-of-1 from 50+. Iffy if you’re at the 25 or further back on fourth down, basically.

On kickoffs, Farrell has had 37 of his 44 boots go for touchbacks, though last week one of those that didn’t was returned for a TD by Pitt.

Parker Romo has had 32 of his 57 kickoffs go for touchbacks.

Tech punter Peter Moore averages 45.6 yards per kick and a 41.3-yard net.

Virginia’s Jacob Finn averages 44.3 yards per punt with a 39.2-yard net.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press