Hokies Falter Early As Defense Lapses
Sunday, September 9, 2007
BATON ROUGE, Sept. 8 -- Virginia Tech belongs in a certain class of college football teams this season, and there is another, loftier realm that Louisiana State occupies. It took 10 minutes Saturday night to establish that. The final 50 minutes of the No. 2 Tigers' 48-7 thrashing of No. 9 Virginia Tech merely allowed the 92,000 howling Cajuns at Tiger Stadium to bask longer in their team's supremacy, and, more significantly, for Coach Frank Beamer to open the curtain on Tyrod Taylor's career.
After the Tigers' opening push gave them a 14-0 first-quarter lead, the only intrigue arrived with precisely 6 minutes 34 seconds remaining in the second quarter. That's when Taylor, a freshman, replaced Sean Glennon under center for the Hokies. The decision will spawn controversy and countless headlines this week, but it did not mean a thing Saturday night, because LSU proved itself a superior football team by handing the Hokies their worst loss since 1982.
"We are a good football team; we just got destroyed here tonight," Beamer said. "They are a great football team and they clicked on cylinders."
Taylor was brilliant at times, running seven times for 49 yards. Hokies followers will have to find comfort in that and what may lie ahead for Taylor, because LSU annihilated Tech in every other aspect. The Tigers confirmed themselves as a true national championship threat, while those dreams washed away for the Hokies.
This was to be an early-season showdown between two of the country's best defenses, but the result could hardly have been more convincing. LSU outgained Virginia Tech 448-102 after three quarters and piled up 599 yards in the game. The Tigers recorded nine first downs before the Hokies made one. Virginia Tech's defense, which did not allow more than 325 yards in any game last season, surrendered 327 in the first half.
There were plenty of other statistics to prove LSU's dominance, but you didn't need numbers -- only eyes. The Tigers ran faster, hit harder and sent more elite athletes on to the field than Virginia Tech. Three LSU running backs -- Jacob Hester, Keiland Williams and Charles Scott -- gashed the Hokies' heretofore vaunted front seven; Virginia Tech's Branden Ore could not come close to turning the corner on LSU's quicksilver defensive line.
The Tigers overwhelmed Glennon more than any other Hokie. For the entire preseason, Glennon pledged his four-turnover second half in the Chick-fil-A Bowl last December no longer haunted him, that he was a new-and-improved passer. Before six quarters had expired in the 2007 season, though, Beamer decided to take his chances with someone else under center.
Glennon completed 2 of 10 passes for 16 yards and was sacked once.
His most glaring lack of poise came on his final possession. On second down, the crowd roared as the play clock ticked down, and Glennon called time out. When the Hokies emerged from the sideline and lined up, the Tigers scrambled around and left Josh Morgan uncovered, perhaps the lone moment all night they were out of place. Rather than capitalizing, Glennon stalled and burned another timeout.
So a change needed to be made. Beamer put in Taylor with the Hokies on the 14-yard line, a voracious crowd exploding all around him. Beamer surely wanted to begin the Tyrod Taylor era with a measured decision; instead, it was born of desperation.
"Well, we just needed to get something going," Beamer said in a halftime television interview. "He can move around a little bit in there; maybe he can get something going for us."
The decision to remove Glennon was not based solely on his performance. With LSU's defensive line shredding Tech's offensive line, Beamer wanted a more mobile option behind center to avoid the rush. Only Taylor could deliver that.