The Virginia Tech coaching staff and its new starting quarterback, Tyrod
Taylor, are in a foot race with the schedule, trying to get Taylor ready for the
meat of the ACC schedule, especially that trip to Clemson on October 6th (with
apologies to UNC, coming to Lane Stadium on September 29th). The Hokies got out
of the blocks pretty well to start the Tyrod Taylor era, and things are on
Taylor generally looked good on Saturday (18-of-31, 287 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs,
1 TD rushing), and what he brings to the table over his predecessor is clear.
It’s not just mobility, though I’ll admit that I was guilty last week of
accusing the VT coaches of wanting a guy who could bail and run when things
Virginia Tech got instead with Taylor is a guy with very good pocket presence
… who moves around to the open spots … keeps his eyes downfield … and can
throw quickly and with accuracy on the run. Sure, he can break the pocket and
gain yards with his feet, but I see now that he can do a heck of a lot more than
Call it the Michael Vick effect. Michael made so many great runs that we
think that’s what mobile QBs ought to do. But Tyrod isn’t just a guy who runs
for first downs when the pocket collapses. He can do a lot of things, most
notably extend a play with his feet and fire with accuracy even when he has been
This is the thing that Sean Glennon struggles with the most: throwing with
accuracy while moving. Glennon is a mechanically sound QB when allowed to set up
and throw, but in the current state of VT’s offense, that’s a rare situation, so
enter Tyrod. The difference between the two showed itself on Taylor’s second
passing attempt of this game, when he darted up the middle of the pocket,
apparently ready to run, then suddenly straightened up and flicked a dart to
Josh Morgan, who was streaking across the middle and turned it into a 59-yard
That was just the first of many such plays that Taylor made on the day, on
his way to spurring the Tech offense to its best output (473 yards) since the
Hokies rolled up 509 yards in a 52-14 massacre of Virginia on Nov. 19, 2005. It
took 17 games for the Hokies to put up numbers like that again, and this is only
the second time the Hokies have been over 400 yards since that UVa game. (The
other time was the 418 yards VT put up against Duke last year.)
You know from my writings last week that I’m generally not happy with the
state of the Virginia Tech offense, and my concerns go beyond the player
personnel of the day. But at this point, I’m with the coaches: Get it any way
you can. And there is something to be said for sheer talent winning out, and
what a difference a good player can make, particularly at QB.
This is just the beginning for Tyrod Taylor, who gradually gained confidence
in Saturday’s game, as the offense picked up speed in the second half and put up
21 points. Ohio’s defense isn’t very good, currently ranked 96th in the nation,
so it was a good exercise for Taylor to get work in game situations. A dress
rehearsal of even lighter fare will come this weekend, when William & Mary
comes to Blacksburg. The Tribe is ranked 79th in the Championship Subdivision
(1-AA) in total defense, after playing Delaware, VMI, and Liberty.
After that, it will get tougher for Taylor. UNC currently has the 55th ranked
defense in the nation, and Clemson, which follows the Tar Heels on the schedule,
is right there at 54th. The big difference against Clemson will be road versus
home, not to mention that, statistics aside, the Tigers are tougher than UNC
when they play to their capabilities.
Tyrod Taylor’s road will be made even more difficult by two words: game film.
Ohio didn’t have it, but future opponents will. The offense that Tech ran on
Saturday had a few wrinkles that I’m sure Raleigh Hokie will get into, such as
runs from the shotgun and a pistol formation. Once those wrinkles and what Tech
does from them are down on film, it will get progressively harder for Tech to
This is the foot race I talked about: Tech and Taylor must build his
experience level and expand his play package, trying to beat defenses that will
get more talented and have more game film to analyze.
I still can’t believe...
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