When Brennan Armstrong started the 2021 season with 339 passing yards and 2 touchdowns against William & Mary, it seemed impressive. Little did anyone know that performance was merely an appetizer. In the eight games since, he has elevated things to Iron Chef status.
Week after week, Armstrong is serving up dish after dish at an elite level. Those 339 yards back in the opener? The third lowest total of the season to date. Against BYU on Saturday, Armstrong completed 21 of 33 passes for 337 yards and 4 touchdowns despite leaving midway through the fourth quarter with an injury (more on that in a moment). That meant he has eclipsed the 300-yard mark in all but one game this season.
Those numbers in Provo pushed Armstrong to the top of the record book at Virginia. He now owns the single season passing record with 3,557 yards, which surpassed the 3,538 by Bryce Perkins in 2019. The previous record came in 14 games, while Armstrong hit the mark in nine games. The ACC record for a single season is 4,593 yards by Clemson’s Deshaun Watson in 2016. He was not available for comment after the game.
Armstrong broke the Cavalier record on an 8-yard pass – a dart over the middle – to Jelani Woods in the fourth quarter. Look at the game-by-game breakdown to reach the milestone:
- William & Mary: 21-31, 339 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions
- Illinois: 27-36, 405 yards, 5 touchdowns, 1 interception
- North Carolina: 39-54, 554 yards, 4 touchdowns, 1 interception
- Wake Forest: 33-59, 407 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception
- Miami: 25-44, 268 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception
- Louisville: 40-60, 487 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions
- Duke: 25-45, 364 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions
- Georgia Tech: 29-43, 396 yards, 4 touchdowns, 0 interceptions
- BYU: 22-34, 337 yards, 4 touchdowns, 2 interceptions
Unfortunately for Armstrong and the Hoos, he completed just one more pass after that throw to Woods. He connected with Keytaon Thompson for 12 yards, but on the next snap, a 3rd-and-3 play, he scrambled for first down yardage and got up wincing and pointing at his side. He remained in the game, but his next pass was off target and intercepted in BYU territory. Armstrong walked to the sidelines pointing again at his side and appeared to say the word “bone” in route. He left the field for further evaluation. The early exit left him one passing touchdown short of a tie with Matt Schaub, who threw for 28 touchdowns in 2002, for the single season record in that category.
“I saw on the last interception, that’s where he pointed,” Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “He might have been hurt before then – I don’t know when he got hurt or if it got hurt while he was throwing. I don’t know the mechanism or when, but once he threw that, that’s where he was pointing. He might have been playing with it, I’m not certain.”
Armstrong’s injury also thrust the November part of the UVA schedule into a state of flux. After a bye week, the Cavaliers host Notre Dame before a two-game set of conference games to finish things out. The Wahoos can claim the ACC Coastal Division title with wins against Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech in those final two contests. The Panthers lost to Miami earlier in the day Saturday to create that possibility because while they still lead the division at 3-1 currently, a Virginia win would give the Hoos the head-to-head tiebreaker if both teams finished with two league losses (if the Hurricanes also finished with two losses, UVA would still own the tiebreaker for combined head-to-head win percentage among the tied teams since it won at Miami; that is the first tiebreaker for any tie involving three or more teams).
Armstrong’s status was not known immediately after the game.
“We control our destiny and playing and winning is really what’s at stake,” Mendenhall said. “So a bye week coming up. With an injury to Brennan, so that could reframe what we do during the bye week getting our team not only healthy but getting a quarterback trained if Brennan is out and I don’t know that yet. That’s where we are.”
Thompson said that there is confidence that the offense can still find a way to be productive if Armstrong’s injury forces him to miss any playing time.
“We have a great quarterback in Jay Woolfolk and we have a next man up mentality,” Thompson said. “Of course, Brennan’s a great quarterback, the nation’s leading passer, but I believe in our coaches and I believe in our players to you know kind of find a way to fill that void.”