At no point was the Clemson-Virginia football game billed as a clash between the respective starting quarterbacks.
Not that UVa sophomore Brennan Armstrong received any negative reviews following the Cavaliers’ 41-23 loss at Memorial Stadium.
It was the second career start and first road start for Armstrong, who completed 24 of 43 passes for 270 yards and three touchdowns.
Armstrong also had 22 rushing attempts for a team-high 89 yards.
He had 359 yards in total offense, compared to 365 yards for Clemson quarterback and preseason All-American selection Trevor Lawrence.
“He did amazing,” UVa head coach Bronco Mendenhall said after Armstrong’s second start. “Brennan is tough mentally and physically. The stage wasn’t too big; the [opposing team] wasn’t too good.
“I was really pleased with his mind-set, his execution, his leadership. He did a really nice job.”
Armstrong was intercepted twice, most notably after the Cavaliers had driven to the Clemson 19-yard line to start the third quarter.
“That was gonna be a big score for us [and] get some momentum starting the second half,” Armstrong said after the game. “That’s the one thing I look back on, the pick in the end zone.”
Clemson defensive back Andrew Booth reached back with one hand to catch a ball intended for UVa’s 6-foot-7 freshman, Lavel Davis.
“I think we would have scored there and the outcome of the game — just the score of the game — could have looked different,” Armstrong said.
Virginia and Clemson played in the 2019 ACC championship game, won by the Tigers 62-17 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“They are going to win some games; that’s for sure,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Saturday night. “That quarterback is just what I thought he would be. He’s a really good player.”
Virginia fell to 0-5 against No. 1-ranked teams.
Not to be overlooked Saturday was Clemson running back Travis Etienne, whose rushing numbers (14 carries, 73 yards, one touchdown) were not spectacular.
However, Etienne also had five receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown.
“Etienne was difficult to tackle and probably the difference in the game, [along with] maybe with a turnover by us and an interception by them in the end zone,” Mendenhall said.
“I liked our execution, but a handful of plays was the difference. [It was] a significantly different story than a year ago and that’s how I see it.”
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