Armstrong hoping to avoid slow start against NC State

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Brennan Armstrong

Brennan Armstrong (Photo: UVA Athletics)

The big emphasis for Brennan Armstrong this week will be getting off to faster starts as Virginia prepares for a home game against NC State.

UVA’s redshirt sophomore quarterback has been somewhat shaky at the beginnings of games against Duke and Clemson, but has steadily improved as games wore on, and finished strong in both cases.

Armstrong said it’s a matter of getting in rhythm, something he and quarterbacks coach Jason Beck are talking about extensively.

Stronger starts is something that hasn’t escaped Bronco Mendenhall when it comes to analyzing his quarterback.

“Yeah, and I’ll take suggestions,” Mendenhall quipped about finding a way to get his QB kick-started earlier. “But no, he’s good. In fact, the other day his second throw hit Wayne Taulapapa right in his shoulder pads. That was kind of the intent. It was just a little longer than a handoff and hit the guy right in the shoulder.

“So, I think that’s just part of maturing and growing. It’s hard to even remember that’s how he started because he was just so competitive and did such a nice job down the stretch (against Clemson). I think that is going to be part of managing each team when we play them, the new looks they give, just calming down. We’ve made a clear intent to have manageable throws that he likes to begin with. It’s just going to take time.”

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, who earlier during game week said that Armstrong reminded him of a younger Steve Young (left-handed) running with the football, said after the game that he admired Armstrong’s toughness.

Despite the slow start at Clemson, Armstrong completed 24 of 43 passes for 270 yards and three touchdowns. He was picked off twice. He also ran the ball for more than 100 yards against the Tigers’ stingy defense, but was credited with only 89 due to three sacks.

“Once we got into the rhythm, I feel like we can consistently keep it,” Armstrong said of his starts. “I feel like we move the ball really well. There were only a few drives where we really stalled out, otherwise we were picking up first downs, getting the ball down the field, keeping our defense off the field and taking a good couple of minutes off the clock by pushing the ball down the field. We got to the red zone a couple of times and couldn’t score.”

In the latest NCAA rankings, Armstrong is No. 16 nationally in passing yards per game (269.5), and No. 4 in the ACC.

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