The Q&A returns this week after our previous 2 opponents didn’t respond to our interview requests :( This week, we’re chatting with Zach Carey from our friends at Streaking the Lawn. Should we be scared of high-flying QB, Brennan Armstrong? Zach says yes, and I tend to agree with him... it’s not like Tech ever has issues winning in Charlottesville or anything.
1. UVA has won 3 in a row and has looked like the most consistent team in the ACC Coastal this season. Despite a couple midseason stumbles - what has the team done well lately that they didn’t do against UNC and Wake?
It’s hard to necessarily point to one specific thing that has turned this team’s season around. Most obviously, the competition got worse which allowed the team to regain some momentum while still making mistakes.
The defense has absolutely been less of a gaping hole of late, particularly against the run. Wake and UNC had field days gashing through the Wahoo front seven. So, just containing opposing offenses and not allowing them to chain together chunk plays has been a welcome relief.
Then, it’s hard to quantify, but this team has developed a never-say-die winner’s mentality that seems to stem from Brennan Armstrong. Virginia’s quarterback hasn’t been completely perfect this year, but he’s found ways to win games and his emergence as a calm presence in the face of pressure has really steadied the boat.
2. Was blowing the doors off of Duke as satisfying as I’m assuming it would be in a rivalry game? That box score looks like a breath of fresh air compared to the 2 close wins preceding it.
I mean, nothing could ever beat blowing the doors off of Virginia Tech, but yeah, that was satisfying. Granted, the ‘Hoos tend to have a lot of success against Duke — as do most ACC programs — so it wasn’t necessarily unexpected.
But, of course, after winning two games off of opponents’ missed last second field goals, winning so convincingly provides a shot of confidence and momentum as Virginia prepares for a brutal four-game stretch to close the season.
3. Brennan Armstrong is having a monstrous season at QB. Mendenhall is not traditionally thought of as an offensive savant, so what do you contribute to his success? ... Coaching, surrounding talent, offensive line? With the Yellow Jacket’s struggles in the secondary this season, I don’t see this game boding well for the Yellow Jackets.
All of the above, really. Quarterbacks coach Jason Beck and wide receivers coach Marcus Hagans likely deserve the most credit among the coaching staff considering the leaps their players have taken this season. Of course, offensive line coach Garrett Tujague is a living legend and has established a high standard of play for the big men up front who have been very good in pass protection this season.
That said, coaching is nothing without talent and boy does this offense have it. Armstrong is your classic gun-slinging quarterback who thinks he can hit any window anywhere on the field. And, the scary part is, he’s not wrong.
Then the receiving core is about as elite as its quarterback. Dontayvion Wicks is a legit number one target and has 679 yards and six touchdowns despite missing time due to injury. Then there’s a plethora of guys including Ra’Shaun Henry, Billy Kemp IV, Keytaon Thompson, and tight end Jelani Woods who have all had monster games this season. Suffice to say, Armstrong has plenty of weapons.
With that said, yeah, Georgia Tech’s issues in the secondary are going to be exploited in this game. There’s been no stopping Armstrong and the Virginia passing attack this season, and a struggling Yellow Jacket unit should expect to give up a lot of yards on Saturday.
4. Tech’s offensive line has been inconsistent at best through this turbulent season, which has often stifled our very talented running backs. Who on the defense will be spending the most time in our backfield this weekend?
Fortunately for Tech, there hasn’t been that much consistency among the Virginia front seven in terms of pressure in the backfield. The team only has 10 sacks on the season coming from five different players. Middle linebacker Nick Jackson is the most talented and has been coming on strong of late, while Mandy Alonso is always capable of a big game. Outside linebacker Noah Taylor is capable of bringing pressure, as can Hunter Stewart. Then Aaron Famui is a name to watch on the inside.
But, really, I doubt the ‘Hoos are able to bring that much pressure even against a weaker Tech offensive line. Everybody they’ve played has been able to run the ball fairly well and I don’t expect that trend to be bucked on Saturday.
5. For any of us traveling to Charlottesville this weekend, where should we eat and drink while we’re in town?
As a first year at UVA, I’m not sure how much I can help y’all in terms of the drinking portion of that question. But as a Charlottesville local I’ll tell you that you can’t go wrong with Bodo’s Bagels or the Villa Diner.
(Editor’s note: y’all help us out in the comments here.)
6. And finally, how do you see this game going? Who wins and how?
Maybe this is false optimism following three wins over meh teams, but I feel pretty confident saying Virginia will win this game. Georgia Tech will put up points and it won’t be a total blowout but I don’t think the Yellow Jackets have the answers defensively nor the sheer offensive firepower to keep up with the Wahoos. Virginia 35, Georgia Tech 21.
Thanks again to Zach from STL for taking the time to chat with us. You can read my answers to his questions here.