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First half observations from Virginia football vs NC State

Thoughts from the first 30 minutes of play.

Virginia v Maryland Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

The Virginia Cavaliers are down 14-7 to the NC State Wolfpack at halftime. With that, we’ve got four observations from the first 30 minutes of play.

Virginia’s offense continues to live and die on big plays

Through three weeks, Virginia’s offense relied heavily on chunk plays to put points on the board while the ‘Hoos were tripped up by strings of small errors when the plays downfield didn’t come together. That trend continued in the first half against the Wolfpack.

A 28-yard completion to Sackett Wood on a trick play gave UVA’s first drive some juice and put the offense on the NCSU 31-yard line. But two false starts and a JR Wilson drop on a near touchdown forced a punt and concluded a drive that looked destined to end in points.

In the second quarter, though, the Cavaliers benefitted from a 42-yard pass to Malik Washington down the sideline and punched the ball into the endzone six plays later when Colandrea bought time and found Washington again in the back corner. It’s undoubtedly a double edged sword.

The running game (20 carries, 64 yards, 3.2 yard per carry) continues to be inconsistent, and UVA will need to be able to more consistently move the ball beyond the big plays to win this game.

Malik Washington keeps balling out

After a career-best performance last Friday, Malik Washington kept it up in his first half of ACC competition with three catches for 66 yards and a score. He’s been the most reliable player on Virginia’s offense through the first 3.5 weeks of the season and has been a huge pickup from the transfer portal.

Anthony Colandrea is 110% dawg

You’d think that throwing three picks on three consecutive throws would phase a true freshman quarterback. Not Anthony Colandrea, though. He came out firing against the Pack, throwing for 96 yards and a touchdown and running for 15 yards on three carries.

Colandrea continues to make something out of nothing by maneuvering in broken pockets. He doesn’t have a lazer of a long ball, but his composure when under duress belies his experience. The young gun always keeps his eyes down field and tends to create time for his receivers.

There were a few times where he should’ve pulled the ball in the read option and one or two throws that he missed. But altogether that was a really nice bounce back half from the freshman signal caller.

Brennan Armstrong doesn’t look that good

Not to be a hater, but Brennan Armstrong’s return to Robert Anae’s system hasn’t brought back 2021 Armstrong. He threw one interception to Micah Gafney and had at least two more throws that were worthy of being picked off. I’d guess most if not all UVA fans are happier with Colandrea than they would be with Armstrong still around.

The former UVA QB threw for 120 yards, a touchdown, and that pick on 11-20 passing in the first half of his return to Charlottesville and Scott Stadium. All due respect, that’s nothing special.