Hokies, Holt adapting to new quarterback situation


Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

As a fifth-year senior who already graduated, and a third-string quarterback and backup wide receiver who has watched more games than he had played in, Cory Holt could have understandably closed his career at Virginia Tech after last season.

He thought about it. Just not for too long.

"I'm not going to give up on this team, I'm not going to quit," he said. "And they're not going to give up on me. And they haven't for the last four years."

The Hokies certainly aren't going to give up on Holt now. Not when he could be their starting quarterback on Nov. 6 against Maryland.

On the first play of last weekend's game at Florida State, Virginia Tech starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor suffered a left high ankle sprain. In the third quarter, backup Sean Glennon dropped down and writhed in pain with a left ankle sprain. Both of them are wearing a protective boot until "at least Thursday or Friday," according to trainer Mike Goforth, and will be listed as questionable for the Maryland game.

While Holt was warming up at halftime at Florida State, receivers coach Kevin Sherman approached him and asked him if he was ready "just in case you have to go in." Holt was joking when he said, "yeah." He didn't really think he'd be playing.

After all, Holt hadn't taken a snap at quarterback in six weeks.

That changed within minutes, and Holt was suddenly searching for his helmet and running the Hokies' offense without even getting a chance to talk to quarterbacks coach Mike O'Cain.

"He ran the offense just like you wanted him to," O'Cain said. "I'm very proud of him because he was in a very tough situation and did a great job."

Holt, who enrolled at Tech in the second semester of 2003, made the switch to wide receiver near the end of the 2007 season but moved back to quarterback in August when it looked like the staff was going to redshirt Taylor. He's been playing receiver, though, since the second week of September and was close to seeing some time there.

Instead, he took reps Tuesday and Wednesday as the Hokies' first-team quarterback.

"It was back to square one with me," Holt said. "It was like starting over in the summer time when I was doing the receiver thing and had to adjust again. I've still got to get some timing issues down."

Holt entered this season with eight career completions on 19 attempts for 113 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Last weekend, O'Cain wanted Holt to relax, and asked him what he was comfortable with (which O'Cain already knew, but wanted to hear Holt say). They stuck to basic passing plays and ran the option with him a bit. He completed 3 of 6 passes for 28 yards and a touchdown.
Beamer said Holt will be ready to do anything in the offense they need him to.

"He's been around the program, he knows what's going on," Beamer said. "He's got some good ability. He came in and did a good job down at Florida State. I thought [he] did a great job under the conditions and how much work he really didn't get at quarterback. He just hasn't been doing that very much here lately."

If Holt starts against Maryland next Thursday, it will be the first time Beamer can remember lining up against a team with first-year starters at every offensive skill position. None of them started last year.

After practice Tuesday evening, Holt said the reality of his promotion still hasn't quite sunk in.

"I'm still getting phone calls and text messages and things like that talking about congratulations on the game," he said. "It still hasn't sunk in to me. I hate that it had to happen the way it did, with two guys in front of me getting injured, but God put something on the table for me and I'm just trying to make the best of this opportunity."

The uncertainty of the situation, though, has made the game plan for Maryland a little more challenging.

"We're unsure because there is a chance that Tyrod and Sean both could be back for the Maryland game, one could be back, the other may not," O'Cain said. "We've got so many scenarios right now we're having to deal with. Not only with Cory, but what do you do for a backup for him? We've got some questions to answer. ... We've got some to do here in the next couple of days and at least have a plan in case we don't have either one of them."

Tight end Greg Boone, who played quarterback in high school, got about 15 reps at No. 2 quarterback in Tuesday's practice, and said whenever he's in there, they're throwing deep. He said he can throw it between 80 and 85 yards, the same he did in high school.

"My arm strength has always been there," he said.

It's obviously still not an ideal situation for a team that has lost two straight games and was struggling on offense with its starting quarterback. The inexperienced, undermanned Hokies are still in the mix, though, for the Coastal Division title.

"I think the good thing for us is we've still got an opportunity," Beamer said. "We control what happens. We've got three out of four at home now. I expect us to come back stronger than ever."