Armstrong more comfortable in offense, as backup Woolfolk reminds defense of Russell Wilson

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Brennan Armstrong (Photo: UVA Athletics)

Tony Elliott’s offensive system demands a lot from the quarterback position, and Brennan Armstrong has devoured the playbook. The more Armstrong is exposed to the new system, the more comfortable he becomes, and that was evident at Virginia’s first full-padded scrimmage last Saturday at Scott Stadium.

“Everybody looks to him and the work that he’s put in and just how comfortable he’s become in the system,” Elliott said of his starting quarterback. “Brennan’s learning to manage the game. I was proud of him when he adjusted some protection calls, and when the quarterback is adjusting protection calls you can tell that he’s really feeling comfortable with the system because that means he’s not thinking about what the play concept is.”

Instead, Armstrong turns his attention to the defense and realizes where he may be vulnerable. Thusly, he can get the offensive line and running backs on the same page to provide the protection required for the play concept to be successful.

“So, that’s huge,” Elliott said. “That creates a no sense of anxiousness with everybody else. They all can just be calm and free because they know they have got the guy back there running the show.”

Armstrong confirmed that he feels even more comfortable in the offense and that taking practice to the stadium, where UVA has been tough to beat for the last several seasons, raised the level of attention to detail.

“When we get to the stadium, it’s just a different ballgame,” Armstrong said. “It’s a big, big thing for us.”

As any quarterback would be, Armstrong was wishing for his offensive linemen to overcome their illnesses, so they can begin to build consistency.

“It’s not just five guys out there, it’s all one,” the QB said. “You want to get five guys out there consistently getting reps together.”

He said he has been impressed with new center Ty Furnish in fall camp.

“He has been standing out to me. As a center-quarterback, we’ve had really good communication with no pressures, picking up protections and all that stuff,” Armstrong said.

While the terminology for the new offense is different from the previous coaching regime, Armstrong said that the players have a good grasp on it. With more of an up-tempo approach, they’re trying to get everyone moving into the right spots, lining up and moving the ball fast. Last week, Elliott said they’re running a play essentially every 30 seconds.

“I’m always learning,” the quarterback said. “We’re always installing new things. This week, we’ve installed a good amount of stuff and we’ve worked and worked on those things.”

Armstrong felt everything went smoothly from his end for the scrimmage. He knows the plays inside and out, which gives him more confidence.

“Now, we’re looking at the defense and I don’t have to think about what guys are doing on our side of the ball,” Armstrong said. “I can just dissect what defense is doing so I can get the ball out of there.”

Meanwhile, Armstrong’s backup, Jay Woolfolk from Chesterfield, impressed everyone in Saturday’s scrimmage. Linebacker Nick Jackson was reminded of another quarterback that hailed from the same high school as Woolfolk, former Seattle Seahawks star Russell Wilson (now with the Broncos). Both were products of Virginia prep schools in the Richmond area — Woodfolk attended Benedictine, Wilson went to Collegiate — where both starred in football and baseball.

Elliott described Woolfolk’s performance in the scrimmage as “electric,” because of his speed and his ability to change direction. Jackson agreed.

“I would say Jay is like a Russell Wilson or Kyler Murray kind of player,” Jackson said. “I think people get caught up in he’s like a two-sport athlete, but when he gets on the field, he’s a football player.

“I’m excited for him in the future. He was electric. He was making guys miss, he was scrambling around, making plays everywhere. I mean, he’s a football player. He’s a ballplayer. When the big lights are on, he performs at his best.”