As Brennan Armstrong enters his third season as the starting quarterback for the Virginia Cavaliers, the fifth year senior revealed on Thursday that his goals for the upcoming campaign center around winning games and helping to establish Tony Elliott’s standards for the program. Despite the opportunity to test the NFL waters or transfer elsewhere, Armstrong viewed his time in Charlottesville as unfinished as he hopes to build on a record setting 2021 season.
For Tony Elliott, that means the world. “He brings that immediate validation because he believes,” said the head Wahoo at Thursday’s ACC Kickoff event. “Obviously he had opportunities to move on to the next level,” so “he brings initial credibility to me by making a decision to stay.”
On top of that, Elliott emphasized that Armstrong “has been instrumental in me establishing the foundation of the program,” as they’re both “blue-collar-mentality guys. Team first guys.” In fact, according to the former Clemson OC, “one of the first points he wanted to illustrate to me early on [was] ‘Coach, this ain’t about stats. This is about winning. I want to win.”
According to Armstrong, that really is the case. “It’s not personal for me,” he said on Thursday. “That’s not the reason why I came back. It was always the team goal. I feel like I just have more to give, more wins, to have a better season I feel like,” as he pointed to how “he didn’t really like how the season ended,” and “wanted to end it better and just hang out with the guys one more year, and play some more ball.”
Most importantly, he sees the potential for the program to continue building this coming fall with a more successful season than in 2021. “I feel like we have the pieces to do it,” said Armstrong, “and with Coach Elliott here now, with his knowledge and what it looks like and the players he has been around and everything that he brings to the table for us, I think we have the opportunity to be something special even in his first season here as a head coach.”
As for his role as a leader of this team, Armstrong mentioned that he took on the role of melding Elliott’s vision for the program with the players. He said that he made sure to “understand what Coach Elliott wants for his team and the culture,” and then focused on “taking that into the locker room and pushing that for the guys,” especially since Elliott has emphasized “us being a player-led locker room.”
Now, with Elliott and offensive coordinator Des Kitchings implementing a new offense that should be more dependent on the running game, Armstrong has had to adjust his playing style. Yet, the Ohio southpaw says that should be in his favor. “I think just the biggest thing in this offense is I can play within an offense,” opposed to 2021 under former OC Robert Anae when “there were a lot of plays that had to be made, [in this offense] I can just play within the offense.” Granted, he added that “that’s a big transition for me as a quarterback and my mindset of how to play the quarterback position.”
Of course, another shift that has come with Elliott on board has been losing UVA’s former heralded quarterbacks coach, Jason Beck, who is coaching with Anae at Syracuse. Nevertheless, Armstrong pointed to the advantages of his relationship with new QB coach Taylor Lamb, saying that “I think with Coach Lamb now it’s more of a partnership [which] is a lot better in a sense.” Granted, he was sure to say that “Coach Beck has been great for me. I wouldn’t be in the position I am without him,” but that “I’m just fortunate that I get to have a different person now with Coach Lamb and [get to] gain more knowledge,” as “that’s the only thing you can really do is just keep getting more knowledge at playing the position.”
As Virginia approaches the fall, hopefully that blend of experienced players and some returning staff with Elliott and his new hires will translate into exactly what Armstrong came back to Charlottesville for.