The person that first jumped out to Brent Venables when he watched Virginia play Duke last Saturday was the Cavaliers’ new quarterback, Brennan Armstrong.
“I thought Armstrong really had a lot of poise and then managed the game well. Then he played really big when they needed him too,” Clemson’s defensive coordinator said as the top-ranked Tigers get set to host Virginia Saturday (8 p.m.) at Death Valley.
In his first ever start, Armstrong displayed the type of attitude and fortitude his Virginia team has become known for under head coach Bronco Mendenhall. Tough, physical, fundamentally sound, and resilient.
The sophomore finished the afternoon last Saturday completing 24-of-45 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns, as the Cavaliers rallied twice to beat Duke, 38-20. Armstrong is not the same kind of runner as his predecessor, Bryce Perkins, but he still ran around and rushed for 47 yards on 10 carries, while scoring one touchdown.
“We saw Armstrong some last year, but not a ton,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “So, getting a chance to see him this past Saturday was really good, other than he is a challenge. He is a problem. He is a really good player. He looks like a young Steve Young running around out there.
“He’s a lefty, crafty, creative, extends plays, tough runner, really good size. He is an accurate thrower and really has no fear. He puts the ball up and trusts his guys to make competitive plays for him.”
As Swinney mentioned, this is not the first time Clemson (2-0, 1-0 ACC) has seen Armstrong play. He did play a little bit in last year’s ACC Championship Game against the Tigers. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound quarterback completed two of the four passes he threw for 15 yards in mop-up duty, while also running twice for three yards in Clemson’s 62-17 victory.
Though Armstrong is far from being like Perkins, the style of which the Cavaliers play is still the same. The only thing different is the fact the sophomore quarterback is a lefty.
“He is a tough guy to emulate, and just his sheer size,” Venables said. “He is a big athlete back there that can throw it and run it both. So, he is a tough guy to emulate to say the least. So, we will try to find somebody who can best emulate him the best we can, but we don’t have any southpaws.”
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