Hokies Get Creative in Their Win

By Zach Berman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 14, 2008

BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 13 -- After rushing for a first-half touchdown in Virginia Tech's 20-17 win over Georgia Tech on Saturday, Tyrod Taylor charged toward his sideline, where he was met in a midair by Sean Glennon, two supposedly competing quarterbacks leaping to bump hips in celebration.

Except there is no competition. Virginia Tech's dual quarterback system is no longer dual.

Glennon was not congratulating a player he shares duties with but instead, one he now backs up. And the very reason for the celebration -- a run by Taylor -- explained why Glennon did not receive any snaps Saturday and has been relegated to the No. 2 quarterback.

"For right now, this is where we are, and this is the best way for our football team to operate," Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer said. "As you go along and get better, that's more Sean Glennon. He fits into this thing down the road."

Beamer spent the past week uncharacteristically loud in defending his program and unwaveringly quiet about how he would handle his quarterbacks. After starting Taylor for the first time this season and playing him the entire game, it became clear the Hokies completely reversed course three weeks after declaring Glennon the unrivaled starter.

With a patchy line and receivers far from developed, the offense requires a quarterback who can create plays when options are not available downfield. Beamer and quarterbacks coach Mike O'Cain compared the situation to when the Hokies inserted Taylor last season. When the offensive line improved, Glennon's playing time increased, and he played perhaps the best football of his career late in the season.

"I think number one, it's hard," O'Cain said. "Physically, mentally, he's faced more adversity than any quarterback I ever coached, in terms of being taken in and out, the criticism he's received around from all around, the negative."

Glennon was not made available to comment.

If anything, Saturday's win revealed exactly why the Hokies chose Taylor. He threw for just 48 yards on 9-of-14 passing but ran for 94 yards and a touchdown.

Taylor's efforts countered those of another running quarterback. Josh Nesbitt dodged and darted though the Hokies' defense for 151 rushing yards and a score.

Taylor's touchdown came on a third down 10 seconds before halftime when the Hokies held no timeouts. He dropped back a few steps and after surveying the field, tucked the ball. Nesbitt's touchdown also came on a third down, when he helped tie the score by scrambling past Virginia Tech's defense for an 18-yard score. Neither touchdown would have occurred with a traditional drop-back passer.

"He puts a pressure on the defense that nobody else puts on them, in terms of their pass-rush lanes and things like that," O'Cain said. "He's always a threat to pull it down. That affects coverage, that affects linebacker drops, that affects a lot of things."

Beamer has contended that Taylor has improved as a passer. Even if that is the case, his receivers are not able to make plays the way last season's four standouts were. Plus, Taylor's ability results in his scrambling quicker than he should on some plays. Taylor said on his touchdown run, he just briefly considered passing.

"That's the thing we have to live with," O'Cain said. "Sometimes it's going to be good, and sometimes it's not going to be good. I don't want to coach him and tie his athleticism down. Standing in the pocket and wanting to be a great pocket passer, that's not where he is right now."

Taylor said he feels more comfortable playing the entire game, before quickly emphasizing he would be comfortable with whatever the coaches want. Clearly, Taylor is whom the coaches want given the team's roster.

"It worked last year because we had the pieces of the puzzle around both of them," O'Cain said. "I don't think we're able to alternate them or play them by play early in the year, because we're not where we need to be around Sean."

In result, the Hokies now have a quarterback who has started in parts of three seasons as their backup. When informing Glennon of the decision early in the week, O'Cain said at this time last year, Glennon was just weeks away from playing seven of the best games a quarterback ever played for O'Cain.

That might not happen again this season, but neither O'Cain nor Beamer wanted to talk about Glennon's Virginia Tech career in the past tense.

"He's been a great quarterback for us, a great team player for us," Beamer said. "I feel for him. I really feel for him. But Tyrod just fits where we are as a team right now."

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