Backup QBs Thompson, Armstead could play other positions on field

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Keytaon Thompson (Photos: UVA Athletics)

With Brennan Armstrong named Virginia’s starting quarterback a few weeks ago, there have been questions launched at both offensive coordinator Robert Anae and quarterbacks coach Jason Beck about what roles transfer Keytaon Thompson and true freshman Ira Armstead might play in the Cavaliers’ offense.

Thompson is a dual-threat quarterback who transferred in from Mississippi State after he didn’t fit into new coach Mike Leach’s pass-happy offense. Anae acknowledged that Thompson pushed Armstrong in training camp, while Bronco Mendenhall admitted he was surprised at how well Armstead picked up the UVA offense.

There have been hints that fans could possibly see Armstrong and Thompson on the field at the same time, and there’s nothing stopping Anae from having Armstead, also a dual-threat QB, on the field as well.

Of course their main roles will be backing up Armstrong, but with Covid and possible injury situations hanging out there, who knows? Still, there are some interesting possibilities of using one as a decoy, a legitimate receiver or “wildcat” in certain scenarios, or even using one to take a pitch and throw the ball.

“With that kind of quarterback [Thompson and Armstead], it’s like Taysom Hill that we had at BYU,” said Beck. “I mean, [Hill] is doing that kind of stuff in the NFL. Because when you’re a pretty good athlete, it just enables you to do other things on the field.

“The biggest kind of projection is what happens if there’s a few issues with the contact tracing and positive tests for the coronavirus, any of that? How could that affect our depth? We’ve kind of done a few things just to kind of over-prepare with depth and how situations can play out, having people prepared and ready as needed.”

Armstrong said he was totally fine with Thompson when he heard news of the transfer.

Ira Armstead

“The coaches were really transparent with me when they said, ‘Hey, we’re gonna need to bring another guy in.’ I said it’s totally fine. It helps me, it helps the team. I’m here to do whatever helps our team and I was going to work no matter what, whoever came in. So it didn’t bother me at all. I’m a team guy, so I just wanted them to make the decision for the team.”

Thompson has not been available to media, requesting that he holds off until after the first game. Freshmen are off limits for interviews, so Armstead won’t be talking this season.

Anae believes there’s a good chance that either Armstead or Thompson could end up contributing at a spot other than quarterback unless they are needed to play backup.

“From our standpoint, hey, that would not be a good idea if one of our better athletes was standing next to me with a clipboard, so we’re looking for opportunities to get them on the field and get [Thompson] involved,” Anae said.

Possibilities are endless.

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