Backup Quarterback Holt Could Be Key to Virginia Tech Hokies’ ACC Title Hopes

With Maryland up next, Cory Holt (12), shown in last season's loss to Kansas in the Orange Bowl, says, "I'm taking the approach that I'm the starting guy."
With Maryland up next, Cory Holt (12), shown in last season's loss to Kansas in the Orange Bowl, says, "I'm taking the approach that I'm the starting guy." (By Marc Serota -- Getty Images)
By Zach Berman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 3, 2008

Virginia Tech's hopes of remaining in ACC title contention might rely on the arm of a quarterback who has not started in five seasons. The contingency plan is a junior tight end who has not played quarterback in a game since high school.

The Hokies (5-3, 2-2 ACC) host Maryland (6-2, 3-1) on Thursday night in a matchup that will have a reverberating effect on the fluid ACC standings, yet the prevailing question leading up to the game centers on who will take snaps for Virginia Tech.

In an Oct. 25 loss to Florida State, the Hokies lost starter Tyrod Taylor and backup Sean Glennon to high ankle sprains. Suddenly, a fortified position -- Glennon is perhaps the most accomplished backup quarterback in the nation -- was turned upside down.

Taylor and Glennon are questionable for the Maryland game, though they both returned to practice on a limited basis this weekend. If neither can play, the starter will be fifth-year senior Cory Holt and the backup will be starting tight end Greg Boone.

"I'm taking the approach that I'm the starting guy," said Holt, who is still taking the majority of reps in practice, according to quarterbacks coach Mike O'Cain.

Holt entered the Florida State game without preparing at quarterback since the first month of the season, when he moved to wide receiver. Holt led the Hokies on a touchdown drive and finished the game 3 for 6 for 28 yards and a touchdown.

Holt has not been able to ascend the depth chart since arriving in Blacksburg as a quarterback recruit five seasons ago, and he moved to wide receiver in the latter part of 2007. When the decision was made to redshirt Taylor at the beginning of the season, Holt became the backup quarterback. Upon reinserting Taylor into the lineup, Holt again switched to wide receiver.

Fighting depth at quarterback and possessing little experience at wide receiver, Holt vacillated between returning for his fifth year or leaving after four years.

"I realized I wasn't a quitter," Holt said. "I'm not going to give up on this team, and they're not going to give up on me."

After returning to quarterback in practice early last week, Holt compared the move to his earlier position changes. He needed to re-familiarize himself with the quarterback's responsibility within the offense. Listening to O'Cain over the headset as he signaled in plays from the sideline during games has helped.

Holt also is capable of moving around in the pocket and making plays with his feet. For someone 6 feet 4 and 215 pounds, Holt's mobility is an asset.

"He's very athletic," Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer said. "If we've got him out there at wide receiver, you know he can run a little bit."

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