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Armstrong, UVA Make Progress against Clemson

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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The Cavaliers' offensive production from this past weekend is quite notable.

Virginia should be disappointed with its loss to Clemson. Playing the Tigers relatively close isn't winning. That said, there are positives the Cavaliers can take from their 41-23 defeat to the nation's top-ranked team. In addition to recording 417 yards of total offense, Virginia actually recorded more first downs than Clemson, 25 to 22. Quarterback Brennan Armstrong threw three touchdown passes and recorded 359 yards of total offense.

Armstrong was the catalyst for Virginia's production on Saturday. Though he threw two interceptions, Armstrong rallied the Cavaliers back from an early 24-3 deficit and pulled Virginia within ten points after a short touchdown pass to Keytaon Thompson late in the third quarter. In a national spotlight against arguably the national favorites, Armstrong, still adding experience to his resume, was a poised playmaker. The Clemson game was just Armstrong's second career start.

Big plays, like Armstrong's 23-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Jana, were common. Billy Kemp had ten receptions. Virginia was 4-of-5 on fourth down conversions.

The Cavaliers' offensive production from this past weekend is quite notable. Virginia joins LSU, Ohio State and Alabama as the only teams over the Tigers' last 21 games to top the 400-yard mark; each of those other performances came in the College Football Playoff.

Offensive coordinator Robert Anae has had recent success facing Clemson. Since December of 2018, just LSU and Ohio State have averaged over five yards per play against the Tigers -- along with Virginia twice. In last season's ACC Championship Game, the Cavaliers averaged 5.16 yards per play; over the weekend, they averaged 5.15. Anae has found some ways to move the football against Clemson. The 23 points scored is the same total as Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. Only national champion LSU, led by Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow, topped that margin versus the Tigers a year ago.

Virginia is a team to watch as this college football season settles in. Defensively, the Cavaliers have another strong group. Offensively, there is plenty of potential, too, Amstrong included. A hard-fought game against Clemson stands as a notable example of what Virginia can do. Though the Cavaliers lost to the nation's top-ranked team, they made some progress along the way.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports