Sun, 17 Oct 2021

Red-hot QB Brennan Armstrong leads Virginia into Miami

Field Level Media
28 Sep 2021, 12:55 GMT+10

Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong has passed for at least 400 yards in three straight games.

The only other ACC passer to accomplish that feat in the past decade was Mitch Trubisky in 2016. He went on to become an NFL first-round selection.

On Thursday night, the offensively potent Cavaliers (2-2) will visit the Miami Hurricanes (2-2).

Miami's star quarterback, D'Eriq King, is not expected to play due to an injured throwing shoulder. Still, King has not been ruled out.

"He's improving and feeling better every day," Miami coach Manny Diaz said.

Miami, which has won its past two matchups against Virginia, is a four-point favorite against the Cavaliers. However, with King hurt and Armstrong hot, consider this an early upset alert.

After all, Armstrong leads the nation's top passing offense (430.5 yards per game).

"He's hitting people in the facemask," Diaz said of Armstrong. "His accuracy jumps off the film."

Virginia started the season by routing William Mary and Illinois before falling 59-39 to North Carolina on Sept. 18 and 37-17 to Wake Forest six days later.

Armstrong, a fourth-year junior, threw for a career-high 405 yards against Illinois on Sept. 11 and followed that up with a school-record 554 yards passing versus UNC.

As a first-year starter last year, Armstrong completed 58.6 percent of his passes for 2,117 yards with 18 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

This year, he has thrown just three picks so far and increased his completion percentage to 66.7 percent. He also has 13 scoring passes and is a threat to run, as evidenced by his team-high 552 rushing yards last season.

The Cavaliers have dropped five in a row in Miami since last winning there in 2011.

"The urgency is definitely there," said Virginia wide receiver Keytaon Thompson, who is playing with a cast due to a fractured hand.

There is pressure on Miami, too, especially after ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit blasted the program last week, saying football was not a priority for school president Julio Frenk. Diaz started his press conference Monday by denying that charge.

But the Hurricanes have been unimpressive this year in losses to Alabama and Michigan State, as well as in a two-point win over Appalachian State.

Last Saturday, the Hurricanes played without King and ripped overmatched Central Connecticut, 69-0.

"One game doesn't absolve us from the performances of our first three weeks," Diaz said. "I'm responsible for that."

For all the criticism -- both nationally and locally -- the Hurricanes still have a shot at winning the wide-open ACC.

If King is unable to play Thursday, the Hurricanes are expected to start second-year freshman Tyler Van Dyke, who completed 10 of 11 passes for 270 yards and three scores last week. True freshman quarterback Jake Garcia is also expected to play.

Three true freshmen -- Brashard Smith, Romello Brinson and Jacolby George -- each caught one touchdown pass a week ago. The Hurricanes also got an interception from true freshman safety James Williams, who was a five-star recruit.

"Saturday's game was a commercial for our past two recruiting classes," Diaz said. "Those classes don't happen without us increasing the resources and support from our administration for what it takes to win here."

--Field Level Media

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