“I can’t wait. My older brother played football at Virginia Tech. I never liked my older brother.”
That was Virginia Cavaliers quarterback Tony Muskett’s response to being asked about what it meant to be playing football back in his home state. Smiling, the Monmouth transfer made sure to clarify that he was “just kidding,” before emphasizing that “I’ve been a UVA fan for some time now,” and detailing his excitement to be able to play in front of friends and family.
With Jay Woolfolk’s decision to focus on his baseball career, Muskett is now the out-and-out favorite to be UVA’s starter when the program’s 2023 season kicks off on September 2nd against the Tennessee Volunteers. Muskett started all three of his seasons at Monmouth and brings a level of confidence befitting a three year starter. Despite the move from the CAA to the ACC, Muskett is embracing the pressure that’s on his shoulders.
“I think there’s pressure any time you play,” he says. “I went to Monmouth. I was fortunate to start there for three three straight years as a true freshman and then sophomore and junior year. Any time you are playing college football, you go out and try to win.”
He continues, saying that “I don’t let external factors dictate how I handle my business. Every time I approach a game, I approach it the same way, whether it’s a championship game or you are playing the worst team in the division. I put internal pressure on myself, and I try to perform my best every single time I take the field.”
Muskett is confident in his fit in Virginia’s and Tony Elliott’s offensive system, something that Brennan Armstrong never really established in 2022. “I love Coach E’s system,” Muskett notes. “It’s very similar to what I ran back at Monmouth. More pro style. We want to establish the run game. We want to give our guys open looks at the ball. I’m very comfortable with it.”
The experience of the last three years in a pro-style offense at Monmouth projects to pay off for Muskett and his offense this fall.
“Whether it’s getting out of a play fake and throwing that dig route on time or just knowing where the back is supposed to be on his check-down route and little things like that, I’ve had exposure to and had the opportunity to work through for years now,” he says.
Obviously, there’s a necessary transition for Muskett to the intricacies and terminologies of UVA’s offense. And there will have to be a continued learning process for the rest of the offense, but Muskett believes that players returning for year two in the Elliott system are “more comfortable with it,” as a result.
There’s definitely a lot of room for improvement relative to Virginia’s 2022 offensive performances, and the new batch of personnel only complicates that. But Muskett’s confidence under center and his comfort on the big stages in the system that UVA runs should set the team up for success this fall.