Virginia Football Game Preview: UVA Hosts Pittsburgh

Virginia Cavaliers
Nick Jackson and Virginia will face Pittsburgh at Scott Stadium. ~ Photo By Kris Wright/TheSabre.com

Though many fans are eager to look forward to basketball season, the Virginia football team still has three games remaining. UVA needs to win all three to reach bowl eligibility. So while the Hoos’ season may end before a bowl game, these matchups are important opportunities for Tony Elliott to end his first season on a positive note and for young talent to develop ahead of 2023.

This week, Virginia’s game against Pittsburgh represents its toughest test left this year. The Panthers come into Week 10 boasting of a 5-4 overall record. With an upset of Syracuse last week, this team is trying to make a late-season run. Not only this, but the Panthers handled the Cavaliers last year, winning by a final score of 48-38.

However, another year presents another opportunity. Let’s take a look at this week’s matchup with Pitt.

3 Things Virginia Learned From UNC

Receiver Success

One of the biggest storylines from the UNC game was undoubtedly Virginia’s unexpected success at the wide receiver position. Prior to the game, it was announced that Lavel Davis Jr., Dontayvion Wicks, and Keytaon Thompson would all be out for the Cavaliers. This immediately sent worry through the fansbase as the trio was essentially the only group Virginia had used all year other than Billy Kemp IV.

However, the rest of the Cavalier roster came ready to rise to the challenge. In a surprising turn of events, despite the loss, UVA posted 418 total yards of offense, 232 of which came through the air. The best part? Those 232 yards represent a true group effort.

Junior tight end Sackett Wood Jr. led the team with 94 yards over 6 receptions. He was followed by freshman wide receiver Sean Wilson, who recorded 61 yards across 5 receptions. Demick Starling chipped in with 40 yards on 1 reception. Kemp brought 15 yards to the table.

In a year where Virginia has really struggled with its passing game, it was refreshing to see some unexpected names perform well for the Hoos.

Brennan Armstrong Still Isn’t Himself

Though Virginia’s receivers were very successful, and obviously aided by Armstrong, Cavalier starting quarterback Brennan Armstrong still has not looked like himself. Despite his throwing for 232 yards, the starter under center had only a 48.5% completion percentage, and recorded 0 touchdowns with an interception.

With those additions, Armstrong has now thrown only 6 touchdowns with 10 interceptions this season. These are shocking numbers when compared with his total of 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in all of last year. While fans have certainly seen improvement from their starting quarterback over the course of this year, he has still not been the same star people witnessed last season.

Consistent Success

Every week, fans have waited for the Cavaliers to play a full four quarters of football. Even prior to the UNC game, we discussed how Virginia could not get discouraged, but needed to keep its head in the game and stick to its guns.

Against UNC, UVA answered these prayers. Though it proved to not be enough, the Cavaliers scored a touchdown in every quarter of the game – 7’s across the board. This is a serious improvement from the Miami game in which UVA failed to score a touchdown through four quarters and overtime.

As I said, it wasn’t enough in the end. However, it was great to see Tony Elliott’s offense finally starting to find some success, and the end zone, this season.

3 UVA Players To Watch

Sackett Wood Jr.

As mentioned, Wood was one of the breakout stars for Virginia last week. His 94 yards was a career high and a serious step up from his previous high of 48 against Louisville. After his success against UNC, fans have to assume that he and Armstrong have developed a level of trust on the field.

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