In order to address a thin quarterback room for the Virginia Cavaliers, Tony Elliott and his staff utilized the transfer portal to add Monmouth transfer Tony Muskett. The presumption is that Muskett will compete with rising junior Jay Woolfolk for the starting role. But what exactly is UVA getting out of their new quarterback acquisition and what does this mean for their outlook going forward? Let’s dive into it.
Who is Tony Muskett?
Muskett was a three year starter at the FCS level. In his first two seasons, Monmouth competed in the Big South where he piled up accolades. Muskett was a freshman and sophomore All-American as well as the Big South’s freshman of the year and a first team all-conference member.
Entering 2022, Monmouth joined a stronger league in the CAA. As a preseason all-conference selection, Muskett threw for nearly 2,000 yards in his first eight games as a signal caller before a leg injury sidelined him for remainder of the season.
On tape, the first thing that stands out is Muskett’s deep accuracy. He will consistently place the ball over the correct shoulder or into a tight window. According to Pro Football Focus, Muskett threw the ball 20+ yards downfield 18.4% of the time, which is around the 80th percentile for Division 1 quarterbacks. He competed 43.9% of such passes and turned it over just 4.7% of the time, both of which rank top five in the FCS. Muskett also utilized his check downs well, a meaningful contributing factor for his 64.1% completion rate.
The jump from FCS to P5 is not unprecedented
In fact, a great example happened this past season. In 2021, Cameron Ward put up video game numbers at Incarnate Word, a member of the Southland Conference, which is significantly weaker than the CAA. Ward brought his head coach (to coordinate the offense) as well as his top wide receiver to Washington State and became an honorable mention all-conference Pac-12 member in his first season.
Plenty of wide receivers and running backs have made this jump as well. Players at these positions are often under-recruited out of high school. Whereas linemen can have difficulty making the same transition due to size and strength differences, production speaks for itself with the skill positions. If you can ball, you can ball, and that certainly applies to Muskett.
Where there may be concern
Yes, at face value, the adjustment from the CAA to the ACC is doable. But in this specific situation, there are some concerns that it would be foolish not to address.
Monmouth was one of the better teams in the entire FCS at giving their quarterback a clean pocket. Muskett had an average of 2.88 seconds in to throw, which ranks near the top of Division 1. Virginia’s offensive line struggled mightily in pass protection last season and they recently lost their well-established offensive line coach, Garett Tujague. Unless drastic changes are made this offseason, Muskett will have to adjust and get the ball out quicker.
The good news is that, when compared to Brennan Armstrong or Jay Woolfolk, Muskett was specifically recruited to play in Des Kitchings’ system. However, we still do not have a clear idea of what exactly that identity is. Last season was Kitchings’ first time calling plays at the Division 1 level and it was hard to even pick out one area where the Wahoo offense succeeded. Perhaps Muskett’s aforementioned playing style gives us an idea of what Kitchings wants out of a quarterback, but we still have to wait and see.
The Bottom Line
Muskett is a significant addition to the Virginia quarterback room who has shown his high upside at Monmouth. While question marks exist, having at least two quarterbacks that you are comfortable with is critical in college football, and, at the very least, Muskett helps ensure that.