Virginia Football Pro Football Focus Report: Up And Down Through ODU

Virginia Brennan Armstrong
Brennan Armstrong creates some rushing yardage for Virginia. ~ Photo By Kris Wright/

The Virginia football team returned home Saturday and found a way to get back in the win column with a 16-14 victory against Old Dominion. It took a Brendan Farrell kick as time expired to get there, but the Hoos continued their recent success at Scott Stadium as they moved to 23-5 on their home field since 2018.

In terms of the Pro Football Focus (PFF) grades, which aim to measure the level of execution, the Cavaliers improved in all three phases from the disappointing showing at Illinois that resulted in a 24-3 loss. The offense raised its score from 48.6 (yikes!) at Illinois to 71.9 against Old Dominion. The defense inched up from 65.9 to 71.7 between the two games, while the special teams jumped from 43.6 (double yikes!) to 63.7.

If you’re interested in the quarter-pole numbers through three games, the offense has averaged 66.8 with a stark difference at home (75.9 in two games at Scott against lower competition vs. the 48.6 on the road against the Illini). The defense has averaged a 72.7 with more consistency (between 65.9 and 80.5 in the three games). The special teams has averaged the lowest number of the three units at 57.6, an unsurprising number if you consider two missed field goals, a missed PAT, and a fumble that led to an opponent’s touchdown.

Circling back to the ODU game, one of those missed field goals almost proved incredibly costly. Farrell missed from 36 yards with 3:07 to go on a kick that would have pushed UVA ahead 16-7. Instead, the Monarchs took over at their own 20-yard line and managed a drive in 2:06 that gave them the 14-13 lead with 1:01 to go. Of course, Farrell got redemption on the final attempt of the game that won it from 26 yards. The day overall received a below average 60.2 field goal PFF grade for Farrell.

What about some other numbers in the Pro Football Focus data? Let’s take a closer look.

Virginia PFF Offensive Player Of The Game

Brennan Armstrong set the school record for career passing yards during the win (he’s up to 7,534 now after moving past Matt Schaub’s 7,502), while message board posters liked either receiver Keytaon Thompson (9 catches, 118 yards) or running back Xavier Brown (9 carries, 88 yards) as the top offensive players in the game. Thompson eventually took home Offensive Player of the Game honors.

In the PFF grades, however, the highest grade went to an offensive lineman for the first time this season when playing at least 50% of the snaps. Left tackle Logan Taylor received an 80.3 overall grade on 88 snaps, ranking ahead of Armstrong and Thompson with 75.0 and 73.5 grades respectively. (Brown did receive an 80.5 grade when PFF adjusted its data Monday, but on only 24 of 88 possible snaps). Taylor posted a 71.7 for pass blocking and an 80.1 for run blocking. Taylor allowed 1 hurry and 0 sacks in the game.

The Hoos pushed 17 running plays to the left side for 103 yards and 6.1 yards per carry. The only touchdown run of the game went to the B gap between Taylor and guard John Paul Flores.

Virginia PFF Defensive Player Of The Game

Flipping over to the defensive side of the ball, message board posters selected EDGE defender Chico Bennett Jr. as Defensive Player of the Game. Bennett posted 4 tackles with 1 sack and 1 forced fumble in the win. His presence was notable on other plays as well with 1 quarterback hurry in his stats as well. In the PFF data, he took the third highest grade with a 71.9, which