If Armstrong can’t practice Thursday, he’s out of lineup for Wake

By Jerry Ratcliffe

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

If Brennan Armstrong clears concussion protocol and can practice on Thursday, he will be considered for action on Saturday at Wake Forest.

Thursday is Virginia’s cutoff day for injured players. If they can’t practice on Thursday, they’re most likely out of the game plan. Armstrong did not practice on Wednesday, as senior backup Lindell Stone took the majority of snaps.

That information came from Cavalier offensive coordinator Robert Anae after Wednesday’s practice in a week when the offense has placed a large emphasis on getting off to a faster start, ball security, and giving Stone more work.

When Stone came into last Saturday’s game after Armstrong suffered a concussion late in the first half, he had hardly any reps with the first team during game week. Instead, he was working with the scout team and helping UVA’s defense prepare for NC State.

While Armstrong’s status is up in the air, Anae expressed confidence in Stone for the game against the Wolfpack.

“Jumped in there, was getting hit and still able to deliver the ball,” Anae said of Stone, who has played sparingly during his career. Last Saturday marked only the fifth time he had played in a game at UVA.

“I thought for the most part [Stone] was able to do what we were asking and what the team needed him to do, just not quite at the level we were hoping for,” Anae said.

Stone completed 30 of 54 pass attempts for 240 yards and three touchdowns. He was intercepted once for a Wolfpack touchdown, and he was not sacked. Armstrong, for the third straight week, had started slow before his injury, completing 6 of 9 passes for 57 yards (26 of those on one pass). He was also sacked three times and intercepted twice.

UVA fans are wondering what the team’s offense may look like with Stone behind the wheel. Armstrong is a dual-threat QB who likes to run. Stone is a classic dropback pocket passer.

It was somewhat difficult to judge what the offense might have done with Stone, because he entered the game with a 17-point deficit. By then, Anae had shelved the run game and decided to attempt to catch up with the pass.

“A lot of what we saw with Lindell was situational,” Anae said. “But now that he’s our starting quarterback, we also believe there are things that he does well, so we want to start there. We also believe there are things that we can do to run the football and we want to start there.”

Virginia’s running game received a boost on Wednesday when the NCAA deemed running back Ronnie Walker Jr. immediately eligible (see related story). Walker is a transfer from Indiana and a Hopewell, Va., native, who has gotten some action in practice and will be with the Cavaliers in Winston-Salem.

Anae believes even though Virginia stayed within an arm’s length of State last Saturday that his squad was pressing.

“We were pressing and I don’t like that,” he said. “When you’re coming from behind, you put all that stress on the quarterback. That’s usually when you make your bad decisions. We were pressing too much, so yeah, a lot of huge risk when we’re behind. But, you know, I thought the risk was worth taking to give ourselves a chance.”

The Cavaliers have gotten off to slow starts in all three games, and have been outscored 34-0 in the first quarters, collectively.

Anae has attempted to get Armstrong comfortable early by calling plays that he likes, a lot of short throws to build confidence and rhythm.

Part of UVA’s problem during those stretches has been a lack of success on first and second down, which additionally builds stress to convert on third downs. Virginia is No. 66 in the country in third-down conversion percentage (31.4 success rate). The Cavaliers are actually much more successful on fourth-down conversions (64 percent), 30th best in the nation.

Wake Forest is 1-2, having lost to the same two teams Virginia lost to, NC State and Clemson. The Demon Deacons lost to Clemson in the season opener, 37-13 (UVA lost 38-20), and lost in a 45-42 shooting to NC State (UVA lost 38-21).

Wake’s lone win came over Campbell by a 66-14 score in the Deacs’ last outing on Oct. 2.

Virginia is a 2.5 point favorite according to MyBookie Sportsbook.