On the surface, UVA’s 24-3 loss to Illinois didn’t make sense.
The defense forced four turnovers yet only got three points from them. The defense registered 3 sacks but also gave up a whopping 5.6 yards per play. Illinois running back, Chase Brown, had to be the Cavaliers point of emphasis yet Brown ran for 146 at a 7.3 yards per carry clip.
How could the defense be good and frustratingly bad at the same time? Because the offense offered no help.
Brennan Armstrong struggled all day and his stats showed it. Armstrong finished the day 13-31 for just 180 yards and two interceptions to boot. Just like Richmond game, some of it was the fact that he missed open receivers.
Perhaps the bigger issue was Armstrong not trusting himself because he was behind an offensive line that gave up 5 sacks.
“For a guy who had a bunch of quarterback hits, 5 sacks,” said head coach Tony Elliott. “You could see that it wear on him as the game went on. He didn’t trust his protection. He was moving in the pocket too much. He was throwing off his back foot. He had some wide open guys… just felt the pressure.”
Not only did the offensive line struggle in pass protection, they also struggled against the run as the Cavaliers would finish with 1.4 yards per carry.
Elliott expressed his disappointment in the offensive line’s performance. “Offensive line wise, I was disappointed in how they played.”
As the offense continued to struggle throughout the game, the defense couldn’t hold the fort and Elliott acknowledged that it was part of the defensive struggles in the last 30 minutes of the game.
“In the second half we couldn’t stay on the field to help our defense and they played too many plays and eventually they are going to give up a play or two”.