ACC: Noles-Hokies-120410

CHARLOTTE, N.C., -- Earlier in the week, Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring talked to quarterback Tyrod Taylor and praised him for being named the ACC’s Player of the Year. Taylor immediately shifted the conversation to the ACC championship game, and that’s when Stinespring knew the quarterback wasn’t done yet.

“I think in the back of his mind, I know he wanted to go out there and make sure everybody knew it wasn’t a mistake when they made him Player of the Year,” Stinespring said. “I’d say he pretty much did that tonight.”

Florida State would probably agree.

[+] EnlargeTyrod Taylor
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesTyrod Taylor completed 18 of 28 passes for 263 yards and three touchdowns.
Not only was Taylor the best player in the ACC this year, he was the MVP of the championship game -- again. Taylor, who also earned the title game’s MVP award in 2008, ran circles around Florida State defenders. He’s so elusive only his feet know where he’s going. He completed 18 of 28 passes for 263 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for a touchdown. With his record-setting performance in a 44-33 win over Florida State in the ACC Championship Game -- one of the best displays of quarterback talent at Virginia Tech since Michael Vick -- Taylor punctuated one of the most impressive turnarounds in the FBS this year.

Virginia Tech became the first team in FBS history to follow an 0-2 start with 11 straight wins, and it became the first team in ACC history to win nine games against conference opponents in the same season. The Hokies have now won four league titles in a seven-year span. Bobby Bowden is the only other coach in ACC history who has managed that feat.

Don’t look now, but Virginia Tech is dominating the ACC the way Florida State used to, and the Hokies couldn’t have done it without Taylor.

“You talk about being the only team that has won 10 games the last seven years, and the last four, Tyrod has been right there,” said Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer. “He’s meant a lot to Virginia Tech, there’s no question about that, meant a lot.”

Especially against Florida State, a program that had won 13 of the past 14 games against Virginia Tech.

“You’re (2-1) against them, right?” Beamer asked his quarterback following the win.

“Yes, sir.”

“That’s better than anybody else at Virginia Tech.”

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, considering he is the winningest quarterback in school history, but Virginia Tech’s offense seemed to reach a whole new level on Saturday. The Hokies converted 13 of 18 third downs -- what Taylor called “money downs,” including a stretch of 10 straight.

Taylor’s ability to buy time helped his receivers get open. Danny Coale had a career-high 143 yards and a touchdown on six receptions.

"It makes everything 100 times easier," Coale said of having a quarterback like Taylor. "He's playing phenomenal."

Given all he has accomplished, why on earth would Taylor still feel like has something to prove?

“Because a lot of people are counting Virginia Tech out,” Taylor said. “They don’t want us to play for this game right here. We just felt like there was a lot of disrespect towards our program so I felt I could come out here and have an extra good game just to put it in people’s heads that I think I deserved that, and I think it showed.”

Taylor’s ability to scramble has long been what has separated him and made him nearly impossible to defend, but given how much time he had against Florida State, those plays often appeared in slow motion.

Beamer has compared Taylor to Vick this season, and Florida State’s defense made the impersonation even easier. The Seminoles couldn’t stop Taylor no matter how hard they tried. In the second half, Taylor was about 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage and wound up escaping for a 12-yard gain.

“My feet just took over, to tell you the truth,” he said. “Sometimes I’m running and I don’t even know where I’m going. I trust my feet.”

The entire team does.

Regardless of what anyone outside the program thinks, he’s always been their MVP.

“If I could vote,” said Coale, “I’d vote for him.”

He doesn’t have to. There’s nothing left to prove.

Video: Virginia Tech's Danny Coale

December, 5, 2010
12/05/10
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Heather Dinich talks with Hokies WR Danny Coale after the ACC championship game win.

Hokies make it look easy

December, 4, 2010
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- This was Virginia Tech's fourth appearance in the ACC championship game, and it has now won three of them. But ask anyone within the program and they'll tell you this one meant the most because of how the Hokies started this season -- 0-2.

The turnaround is officially complete, and Virginia Tech is headed to the Discover Orange Bowl with its 44-33 win over Florida State. I'm heading down for interviews now, so check back later for more.

video

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- With about 12 minutes still remaining in the game, a sign appeared on the scoreboard: "Thanks for coming to the Dr Pepper ACC Championship game." It read like a farewell, and by that time, many of the fans had already begun to clear out anyway.

Virginia Tech has been in complete control of this game, and if there was any chance of an FSU comeback, it seemed to disappear with Davon Morgan's interception of E.J. Manuel. There's still about seven minutes remaining, but with FSU trailing 44-26, this game is over.

Time running out for FSU

December, 4, 2010
12/04/10
10:22
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Time is running out for Florida State to make a statement. The Seminoles trail, 35-24, heading into the fourth quarter, and Virginia Tech's offense has been the most impressive part of this game.

The Hokies outgained Florida State 144-47 in the third quarter, and they are an astounding 11 of 13 on third-down conversions. If FSU is going to get back in this, the defense has to make some stops even though Tyrod Taylor has looked unstoppable.

Hokies in championship form

December, 4, 2010
12/04/10
10:07
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- There's a reason why Virginia Tech keeps showing up in this game. Again. And again. And again.

Frank Beamer has built this program into one of the best in the country, and once again, the Hokies own this game. No team in the ACC has been more consistent than Virginia Tech. Tyrod Taylor has tied an ACC championship game record with three touchdown passes tonight, and the Hokies can't be stopped on third downs. Florida State trails 35-17 in the third quarter and haven't been able to stay on their feet long enough to wrap up Taylor. The Hokies are in control, and it doesn't feel like that's going to change anytime soon. Virginia Tech is the higher ranked team and so far, it's looked like the better team.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Virginia Tech linebacker Bruce Taylor is questionable to return with a stinger in his shoulder, and linebacker Lyndell Gibson is probable to return, according to a school spokesman. It looks like Rashad Carmichael (ankle) will see some playing time in this half.

FSU's Alexander has stinger

December, 4, 2010
12/04/10
9:47
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Florida State linebacker Mister Alexander suffered a stinger in the first half and has missed some time, but he came back in. Freshman Christian Jones has taken his place, but it's worth keeping an eye on.

Halftime: Virginia Tech 21, FSU 17

December, 4, 2010
12/04/10
9:22
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A lot of points, not a lot of defense here in Bank of America Stadium. Here is a quick recap of the first half:

Turning point: In the first quarter, Virginia Tech linebacker Bruce Taylor came up with a big defensive play when he tipped E.J. Manuel's pass into the hands of Jeron Gouveia-Winslow, who ran it back 24 yards for a touchdown and a 7-3 lead. In a game that has been lacking big defensive plays, that one could come back to haunt Florida State. It was less a mistake by Manuel than it was an impressive play by Taylor and Gouveia-Winslow. In an otherwise even game, turnovers will make the difference.

Stat of the half: Virginia Tech is 6-of-8 on third-down conversions. The Hokies' ability to sustain drives could eventually wear out Florida State's defense, but time of possession has been about even. It was not until the Hokies' final possession of the half that the Seminoles started to come up with some big stops, none bigger than a sack by Markus White on third-and-10.

Best player in the half: Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor. He continues to make plays with his ability to scramble and buy time so that the wide receivers can get open. He has completed 9 of 14 passes for 93 yards and a touchdown.

Manuel composed

December, 4, 2010
12/04/10
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel is looking composed tonight in the face of pressure and on third-down situations. He's developed and gotten better as a passer since being named the Gator Bowl MVP last year, and is moving the chains in place of injured starter Christian Ponder.

The interception he threw earlier was less a mistake on his part than a great play by Bruce Taylor. Florida State fans should be confident in the future of the position, and while you never want to see a player miss time for an injury, this experience will only benefit the Noles in the future.

VT's passing game comes alive

December, 4, 2010
12/04/10
8:50
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Heading into the second quarter, Virginia Tech had just 12 passing yards, but that changed quickly. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor was 6-of-8 for 78 yards and a touchdown on the Hokies' opening drive of the quarter, giving them a 21-10 lead.

Everett Dawkins slipped in his pursuit of Taylor, who scrambled away from pressure to find Jarrett Boykin wide open in the end zone. Taylor's ability to use his feet has been a headache for opposing defenses his entire career, and tonight won't be any different. There's a reason he's the ACC's Player of the Year, and he looked like it on that drive.

FSU's defense caught snoozing

December, 4, 2010
12/04/10
8:28
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Florida State's defense missed one too many tackles and the Noles now trail 14-3 because of it.

Virginia Tech running back Darren Evans made it look easy as he waltzed into the end zone on for a 9-yard touchdown. He set that up with a 51-yard run, the second-longest run in ACC title game history.

It looks like Evans and Ryan Williams are going to present some challenges for Florida State's defense tonight. They complement each other well and will keep each other fresh. If FSU can't stop the run, it can't stop Virginia Tech.

Virginia Tech's defense responds

December, 4, 2010
12/04/10
8:16
PM ET
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Virginia Tech's defense entered this game with 12 interceptions in the past five games and continued that trend early here in the first quarter when Bruce Taylor tipped EJ Manuel's pass and Jeron Gouveia-Winslow intercepted it and ran it back 24 yards for a touchdown.

Bud Foster's defense has shown improvement all season long, and in the second half of the season has made game-changing plays like that. Odds are that won't be the last in this game.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A major key to this game will be how well Florida State's defense can pressure Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor, and so far, they've gotten after him. He was 0-for-3 on his first drive, slipping on one play and being forced to throw the ball away on another. If the Seminoles' D can hold strong, EJ Manuel proved on the first drive he can get the Noles into the red zone. They've got to capitalize, though, once inside the 20 and not settle for field goals.

EJ Manuel starts for FSU

December, 4, 2010
12/04/10
7:59
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The mystery is over. FSU backup quarterback EJ Manuel started in place of injured senior Christian Ponder and came out firing with a 29-yard pass and a first down.

That means that either Ponder must be in some serious discomfort, or coach Jimbo Fisher wasn't confident enough in Ponder's preparation with limited snaps this week. Regardless of the reason, it's a significant change because Ponder is medically cleared to play and it's his final season and the biggest game of the year to date. Fisher has said he has made these decisions in the best interest of Ponder, and this one was made with the Discover Orange Bowl on the line.

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