To heck with statistics, Miami concerned about ‘dangerous’ Armstrong

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Photo: UVA Athletics

Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong might not be enjoying the statistical success of a year ago, but Miami coach Mario Cristobol says don’t let the numbers fool you.

Cristobol’s Hurricanes (3-4, 1-2 ACC) will take on UVA (3-4, 1-3) at Scott Stadium on Saturday (12:30 p.m., Regional Sports Networks) in a crucial game for both teams. It is the first in a four-game homestand for the Cavaliers, who are coming off a 16-9 win over Georgia Tech last week. Miami is a 2.5-point favorite according to oddsmakers.

“I think [Virginia] might be statistically [different], but they’re not in terms of how effective [Armstrong] is and how dangerous he is,” Cristobol said. “He’s as talented as it gets.”

Last season, Armstrong threw for 4,449 yards, 30 touchdowns and was intercepted 10 times. After seven games this season, he has passed for 1,618 yards, six TDs, and has been picked off nine times in a new offensive system under first-year head coach Tony Elliott.

Elliott believes Armstrong’s chemistry with his receiving corps is starting to click, and pointed to a pair of long passes to Keytaon Thompson and Dontayvion Wicks in the win over Tech as examples. Wicks was on the receiving end of a brilliant 44-yard catch-and-run that essentially won the game for Virginia. His play was featured on ESPN’s SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays of the day.

Armstrong also was UVA’s leading rusher in that game on a season-high 13 carries.

“You know, all the pieces are coming together for [UVA],” Cristobol said. “They might have had a couple of bumps along the way, but [Armstrong’s] pocket presence, his understanding of their offense and how to dissect the defense, beat them with his arm, with his feet, set plays, he’s one of those guys.

“We’ve got a lot of good quarterbacks in the conference, and he’s up there. He’s as good as you’ll see around the country in any conference, so we can’t fall in the trap that there’s maybe a game or two that he didn’t hit those numbers, those benchmarks he had last year. I mean, he is an elite quarterback.”

Virginia has won four of the last five games against the Hurricanes in Scott Stadium (see today’s related Wahoo Preview for the most complete preview of this big ACC Coastal showdown).