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Armstrong leads nation in passing heading into Friday night game with Wake

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Brennan Armstrong

Brennan Armstrong (Photo: Erin Edgerton/ACC Media Services)

When the dust had settled after North Carolina’s 59-39 whipping of Virginia, Tar Heels coach Mack Brown sought out Cavalier quarterback Brennan Armstrong.

Brown spent some time with the UVA passer and told him, “Don’t get your head down.”

Brown needn’t worry about that aspect of Armstrong. Nor should Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall. Armstrong is not the kind of guy who is going to dwell on the negative.

Armstrong woke up today as the passing king of college football, ranked No. 1 in the nation in passing yards per game with 432.7. He’s also No. 2 in passing yards (1,298), second in total offense (437.7 per game) and fourth in passing efficiency.

Likewise, UVA’s offense is No. 4 nationally with 559.3 yards per game, No. 2 in team passing (1,315 yards) and 20th in scoring (41.3 points per game).

Receiver Dontayvion Wicks is 10th nationally in receiving yards per game (115.3).

“Kudos to my offense,” Armstrong said after Saturday night’s loss. “I don’t do that without them. Now, we take a sad bus ride home, forget about it and get back to work on Monday.”

As far as what Brown told him about keeping his head up, Armstrong had put the loss behind him after that three-hour bus ride from Chapel Hill to Charlottesville.

“I’m excited to get back to work,” Armstrong said. “The leaders on this team need to step up and bring some fire, bring some fire on Monday. We don’t let people feel bad for themselves … that’s sorry stuff.”

UVA hosts Wake Forest in a rare Friday night game this week, and Armstrong’s focus has turned toward the Deacons, who beat Florida State over the weekend.

“We can’t let this ruin our season,” the Virginia quarterback said. “It’s only the third game and we’ve got a long, long way to go.”

Armstrong passed for 554 yards in the 20-point loss to Carolina, smashing Kurt Benkert’s single-game passing record of 455 set against UConn in 2017. Armstrong threw for 364 yards in the first half, also a program record.

After only three games, Armstrong has 1,298 yards passing, which is more than future Green Bay Packers Hall of Famer Don Majkowski had the entire 1985 season (1,233). In fact, when UVA’s Tom Hodges led the ACC in passing in 1965, he only had 1,299 yards, only one more than Armstrong has in three games.

Armstrong also broke Bryce Perkins’ UVA record for single-game total offense with 538 yards, well more than Perkins had against North Carolina (490 yards) in 2019.

“I just kept trying to fire the offense up, keep us in the game,” Armstrong said of his performance. “We’re an explosive offense and can get right back in the game. I think we felt that during the first half. I’m proud of the offense for sticking to it.”

UVA was down 24-7 early in the second quarter before storming back to take a 28-24 halftime lead.

“Things were just clicking,” Armstrong said of the comeback. “Offense was doing its thing.”

The problem was the defense, which had shown up well in the first two games, both wins, against backup quarterbacks. UVA will face another experienced quarterback in Sam Hartman on Friday night, so some things must get fixed.

Virginia’s defense currently stands at No. 93 in the country in total defense.

UVA is a 4-point favorite over the Deacons.

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