Commonwealth Cup 2023 Preview: Renewing the Rivalry

The Cavaliers have been surprisingly competitive this season. What are Virginia Tech's keys to victory against Virginia? Get up to speed with an in-depth, 10-play, 2,200-word Commonwealth Cup film preview.

Receiver Malachi Fields (#8) celebrates after a first down against NC State. [Virginia Athletics]

After a year off from this longtime rivalry due to the horrific shooting in Charlottesville, on Saturday the Commonwealth Cup renews, marking the first meeting between head coaches Brent Pry and Tony Elliott. The Cavaliers have been very competitive in all but three games this season, including a late lead over a Louisville team that beat Virginia Tech badly. Virginia has the best passing offense the Hokies have faced this season, and will be extremely motivated after a tough year to throw a wrench in Virginia Tech's bowl hopes.

Playground Spread Offense

Throughout the season, the Cavaliers have interchanged two quarterbacks — senior transfer Tony Muskett and freshman Anthony Colandrea — that play remarkably similar games. Both guys have a knack for moving around the pocket and finding ways to make plays to get first downs. Both are also prone to make bad decisions at the worst moments. To play to their strengths, offensive coordinator Des Kitchings likes to spread the field. UVA will often align three receivers and an H-back or four receivers, and the space creates a little bit of room for a mostly inside zone read and split zone read focused run game. This also creates room for both quarterbacks to improvise and run if needed.

Of the two, Muskett has a tendency to escape the pocket and try to extend the play. He does a good job of keeping his eyes down the field as he evades the rush, giving his receivers more time to break open.

Colandrea has a stronger arm than Muskett, but he tends to put his head down and run immediately when the pocket breaks down. He exhibited outstanding speed on this QB draw after he broke through the initial line of defense.

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