Greg’s Grades 2020: Duke

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The grades are in for UVA's win.
Zane Zandier and the Virginia defense set the tone in the first win of the season. ~ Photo courtesy Matt Riley/Virginia Athletics Media Relations

For three quarters, Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong played like a quarterback playing his first game. Against Duke, the rest of the Cavaliers looked they were the team playing their third game of the season and the Blue Devils appeared to be playing in their first game of the season. Armstrong collected himself and collected some outrageous numbers by game’s end and the Hoos opened the 2020 college football season with a 38-20 win.

Offensively, the run game was outstanding. The way running back Wayne Taulapapa runs, they should call him Wayne the Train. Maybe they do and I just didn’t know it. This guy just runs over people. Yes, I mean people, not individuals. He is not the little engine that could, he’s the little engine that does averaging 5.9 yard per tote Saturday.

Overall, the run game netted 188 yards, averaged 5.1 yards per run and hit paydirt three times. The last time Virginia ran for more than 180, averaged more than 5 yards a carry, and had three scores was last season when the Hoos took down Virginia Tech. In that outing UVA ran for 181, scored three touchdowns, and averaged 7.24 yards per carry.

I am a huge fan of sustained drives and a strong running game, but Virginia managed just two plays over 20 yards offensively. That may have been to ease Armstrong into his role or it may have been the game plan. Despite the lack of explosive plays, Virginia’s first-time starter managed to pass for 269 yards, the second most passing yards in UVA history in a first career start.

I know I’ll get some grief for the receivers’