ACC: Tyrod Taylor

Looking back at ACC QBs

March, 26, 2013
Athlon Sports recently ranked the top 50 college quarterbacks of the BCS era, and the ACC was well represented (at least by schools that are currently in the ACC). The ACC now claims Miami and Virginia Tech, though everyone knows those schools racked up titles and awards before joining the conference.

There are a few more recent names, though, that made the cut -- including former NC State quarterback Russell Wilson and current Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd.

Here are the ACC-related names you should recognize:

No. 6 Michael Vick, Virginia Tech
No. 8 Chris Weinke, Florida State
No. 11 Russell Wilson, NC State/Wisconsin
No. 18 Ken Dorsey, Miami
No. 20 Philip Rivers, NC State
No. 27 Matt Ryan, Boston College
No. 32 Joe Hamilton, Georgia Tech
No. 45 Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech
No. 49 Tajh Boyd, Clemson

It's nice to see Hamilton get some love, and for those of you thinking about Charlie Ward, don't forget this is only during the BCS era. To me, Rivers should be higher, one of the top three ACC quarterbacks of the BCS era in my opinion. As good as Wilson was, I wouldn't rank him higher than Rivers or Ryan. Listing Boyd is definitely a vote of confidence in his abilities, and Athlon thinks highly of Boyd, as the publication listed him as its No. 2 Heisman candidate for 2013.

ACC's lunchtime links

January, 30, 2013
Steelers fan stuck in Baltimore.

Hokies, Michigan succeed by adapting

December, 31, 2011
Bud Foster, Al BorgesIcon Sports MediaVirginia Tech's Bud Foster and Michigan's Al Borges have benefitted from being flexible.

NEW ORLEANS -- If ever a coach had earned the right to be stubborn about his system, it'd be Bud Foster.

He has coordinated Virginia Tech's defense for the past 16 seasons, and the unit has finished in the top 12 nationally on 10 occasions (the Hokies currently rank 13th in total defense). He has had 34 players drafted in the NFL, 45 different players score touchdowns and at least one player earn All-America honors in all 16 seasons.

The pillars of Foster's defenses -- speed, athleticism, pressure, opportunistic play -- have become synonymous with Virginia Tech's program.

Foster could enter rooms with "My Way" blaring in the background if he wanted to. But he doesn't.

His success isn't tied to stubbornness. He has adapted over time, while maintaining an attacking foundation.

"It's changed a lot but it hasn't changed a lot," Foster said Friday. "We were more of an eight-man front group in the mid-1990s through probably the mid-2000s. You were seeing a lot more two-back offenses at that time. ... We've just tweaked things year in and year out. We're always trying to make it a little better."

Michigan made more than a few tweaks in its offense this year, as coordinator Al Borges integrated some of his pro-style elements while maintaining a spread framework. The results were predictably choppy, but Michigan still scored more points (410) than it did in 2010, when the offense set several team and individual records.

Although Foster has led the Virginia Tech defense since 1995 and Borges had led the Michigan offense only since January, both have benefited from being flexible.

"He's like we have been offensively," Borges said of Foster. "Their defense is ever-evolving."

The next step in the evolution takes place Tuesday night at the Allstate Sugar Bowl, as Virginia Tech's defense and Michigan's offense square off in a fascinating matchup.

Both units faced some obstacles to reach this point. A look at Virginia Tech's defensive depth chart shows seven sophomores and a freshman in the starting lineup. The Hokies were hit particularly hard by injuries this season, losing starters Antoine Hopkins, Jeron Gouveia-Winslow and Bruce Taylor as well as key reserves like Kwamaine Battle.

Despite the losses and the abundance of youth, Virginia Tech maintained its standards on defense, ranking in the top 20 nationally in scoring defense (17.2 ppg), total defense (313.9), pass-efficiency defense (111.8), rushing defense (107.8 ypg) and sacks (2.92 spg).

"[Foster] has enough flexibility," Borges said. "He's been there a long time. That system, although he's got some young players, that system that he has ... they know it. ... You're not teaching every little tiny thing, and you can start dealing more with nuance and things like that. Bud's at that point because he's been there so long."

Borges inherited a more seasoned offense and benefited from a lack of major injuries. His challenge was blending what he had done for decades with personnel suited to a vastly different scheme, particularly junior quarterback Denard Robinson.

"You can see they've done a great job adapting to their talent," Foster said. "But then, there's nothing real fancy about them, either. They're going to line up and hit you in the mouth and be physical."

Virginia Tech must not only contain Robinson on Tuesday night but be wary of Michigan's power game, which features sophomore running back Fitzgerald Toussaint and a big offensive line led by All-America center David Molk.

While the Hokies boast good size at defensive tackle, they're giving up a few pounds elsewhere. Sophomore defensive end J.R. Collins checks in at 240, while outside linebacker Alonzo Tweedy weighs just 189 pounds.

"We obviously have to get off on the football and be physical," Foster said. "That's what [Michigan] is going to do."

Virginia Tech has faced mobile quarterbacks in the past -- former West Virginia star Pat White among them -- and practiced against one the past few seasons in Tyrod Taylor. But linebacker Jack Fuller said Robinson gives the Hokies a look they haven't seen this season.

The closest comparison, according to Tyler, is Clemson's Tajh Boyd, who torched the Hokies in the ACC title game (240 pass yards, 3 TDs).

"But [Boyd's] not much of a scrambler," Fuller said. "He's quick and he can run the ball, but they look for Denard to run the ball. They have set plays for him and that's part of their offense, getting him to run the ball and getting that extra blocker."

Michigan also must adjust to some different elements from Virginia Tech, which doesn't shy away from press coverage and has the athletes to do so.

"It is a challenge," Robinson said. "They have some unique defenses and great athletes."

Added Toussaint: "They are very athletic at every position and play every play with maximum effort."

Virginia Tech's defense and Michigan's offense both should be improved in 2012, as only a handful of players depart each unit.

Both groups will look to use Tuesday night's game as a springboard.

"This is a big step for all of us," Toussaint said.

Week 7: Did you know?

October, 14, 2011
Thanks, as always, to the sports information directors throughout the league for providing us with this week's nifty notes:

ACC: Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe needs one more career victory to become the fourth ACC head coach with 100 or more career wins. Grobe, now in his 17th season as a head coach, has a career 99-94-1 mark. Frank Beamer, Paul Johnson and Tom O'Brien have already reached the 100-win mark.

BOSTON COLLGE: At the midway point of the season, linebacker Luke Kuechly has 99 tackles and is on track to break the all-time NCAA single-season record for tackles (193, Lawrence Flugence, Texas Tech, 2002, 14 games). Kuechly is averaging an impressive 16.5 tackles per game, on track to break the NCAA single-season record for tackles per game (15.6, Rick Sherrod, West Virginia, 2001). The junior now has 440 career tackles (13.75 per game); the NCAA career record for total tackles is 545 and the career tackles-per-game record is 12.4. With 16 tackles at Clemson this past Saturday, Kuechly extended his streak of 10 or more tackles in a game to 28 consecutive contests, a streak that began against Florida State in 2009. - Chris Cameron

CLEMSON: Clemson freshman Sammy Watkins had his third receiving game of at least 140 yards in the win against Boston College. He had 152 yards in that game to go with 155 against Auburn and 142 against Florida State. Watkins is now second in Clemson history in terms of career receiving yardage games of 140 yards or more. The record is four by Perry Tuttle (1978-81), who had four such games in his 46-game career. Watkins ranks first or second in the nation among freshmen in reception yards per game, receptions per game and touchdown catches. - Tim Bourret

DUKE: With two touchdowns against both Tulane and FIU, sophomore RB Juwan Thompson became the first Duke back since 1995 to register multiple rushing scores in consecutive games. The last Blue Devil to accomplish the feat was Laymarr Marshall against NC State and Wake Forest during the 1995 season. The last Duke back to rush for multiple touchdowns in three straight contests was Larry Martinez in 1974 against N.C. State, South Carolina and Virginia. - Art Chase

FLORIDA STATE: In losing at Wake Forest, FSU became the first team in the history of major college football to drop consecutive games by a 35-30 score. - ACC game notes

GEORGIA TECH: The Jackets have rushed for 27 touchdowns at the regular-season’s midpoint. They set the ACC record with 47 in 2009, when they played 14 games. - ACC game notes

MARYLAND: Backup quarterback C.J. Brown’s 77-yard touchdown run at Georgia Tech is the longest by any FBS quarterback this season. - ACC game notes

MIAMI: Quarterback Jacory Harris passed former Virginia Tech standout Tyrod Taylor on the ACC’s career passing yardage list, taking 24th place with 7,177 yards. - ACC game notes

NORTH CAROLINA: A win over Miami would improve Carolina to 6-1 for the first time since 1997. That year, Carolina started 8-0 with the first (and only) loss of the season coming at home against Florida State. - UNC game notes

NC STATE: Cornerback David Amerson intercepted two more passes in Saturday’s win over Central Michigan, upping his total to six, one short of State’s single-season record, last achieved in 1998. He leads the country in interceptions per game. Amerson also had two picks in the season-opening win over Liberty and is the only player in the country with two multi-interception performances this season. - ACC game notes

VIRGINIA: Of the Cavaliers’ 15 touchdowns in 2011, eight have been scored by freshmen. - ACC game notes

VIRGINIA TECH: Offensive guard Courtney Prince moved to defensive line this past week to help offset injuries, and saw action on seven plays at defensive tackle and six plays on special teams against Miami. After playing 33 snaps at offensive guard earlier this year, Prince now joins former Tech players like Ike Charlton, Nick Sorensen, DeAngelo Hall and Macho Harris (all who went on to play in the NFL) who played offense, defense and special teams in the same season. - Bryan Johnston

WAKE FOREST: Wake Forest (4-1) is one of just three schools at the BCS level that has exceeded last year’s victory total (3-9). Both Vanderbilt and Washington State are off to 3-2 starts after posting 2-10 marks in 2010.
After two games and a 2-0 start, it's time to check in with Virginia Tech quarterbacks coach Mike O'Cain about how his first-year starter, Logan Thomas, has fared so far. Here are the highlights of my interview with him yesterday:

How would you assess his play through the first two games?

[+] EnlargeLogan Thomas
AP Photo/Karl DeBlakerVirginia Tech quarterbacks coach Mike O'Cain is pleased with what he's seen from Logan Thomas so far this season.
Mike O'Cain: I've been very pleased. I think he's done exactly what we've asked him to do. He's done a tremendous job of managing the game, getting us in and out of plays, doing all of the little things you have to do, reading signals, and getting the play called properly, getting us to the line of scrimmage in time. He's done a wonderful job of that. That's the way it starts. Overall, he's thrown the ball well. I know his stats right now don't look particularly good, but he's had seven dropped balls in two games and another six that he's had to throw away because of either pressure or not having anybody open, or whatever reason. If you put those 13 throws as potential completions, it looks good. He's not forcing the ball, he's not making the critical mistake. Even though he had an interception on the goal line on Saturday, it wasn't a stupid error as I would call it, a crazy error, it was just one of those things that he threw the ball outside on a fade and the safety made a great play on the ball. Logan didn't get it quite outside far enough, but he was going where he should have gone with it. Does he have to get better? Yeah, and we have to get better offensively in all phases. But I'm pleased with where he is so far. We've been able to bring him along, not ask him to have to win the ball game. He ran the ball very well on Saturday, we put the ball in his hands nine or 10 times. I think he had 11 carries, but two or so may have been runs in the passing game. He had to make a decision in reading it, either he would keep it or give it to the back or whatever. He had five or six opportunities to do that. He's done well and played well.

You guys had committed to the run against ECU, ran it 45 or 50 times. Did that have anything to do with what Logan wasn't doing?

Mike O'Cain: Absolutely not. There were a couple of things in our thought process. Early in the game we threw the ball a fair number of times and somebody said, 'You know, David Wilson has only touched the ball four times.' We were probably midway through the second quarter, and that's not good. So that was part of it. At the same time, we were able to run the football. We were able to take the football down the field and run the ball, which, in turn, their offense was very explosive. We wanted to keep the ball away from them. We were able to run the ball. We were getting 5 yards on first down, 6 yards on first down. It seemed to be the right thing to do. Will we be able to do that from here on out? I probably don't think so. But we were able to Saturday. It worked, and we had the ball for about 38 minutes. That's 38 minutes they don't have it.

Ideally, how much do you want Logan to be running with it?

Mike O'Cain: We don't really put a number on it. What we have to do to win the game. The opportunity presented itself Saturday where we felt like there were several times he had an opportunity to help us get 5 yards, 6 yards, 7 yards, and all of those weren't necessary designed for him to carry it. It was an option for him to carry the ball. It just happened to be the way he played, he ended up carrying the ball. But probably 11 times is too many, to be honest. At the same time, going back to Tyrod [Taylor] a little bit, Tyrod we didn't necessarily design for him to carry the ball very many times a game, because he's going to get six, seven, eight carries a game, just pulling the ball down in the passing game. Logan's a little bit different. He's probably going to stay in the pocket a little bit more, probably won't get quite as many runs in the passing game as Tyrod did for a difference in styles. So we may create a few more ways for him to carry the ball and play his part in the running game.
Once again, the expectation is for Virginia Tech to win the Coastal Division.

Once again, the Hokies have the potential to work their way into the national title conversation.

But buried amid the preseason prognostications is the fact that quarterback Logan Thomas has yet to start a game and has thrown just 26 passes in his collegiate career. Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer enters his 25th season as head coach of his alma mater with a new, highly anticipated beginning at his quarterback position. How Thomas fares in his first season will go a long way in determining whether the Hokies can return to the ACC championship game and possibly contend for more, or if they'll make way for a new champion.

[+] EnlargeLogan Thomas
Mark Dolejs/US PresswireLogan Thomas will get his first collegiate start Saturday against Appalachian State.
There have been times this summer when Thomas has looked spectacular -- like on the clutch 24-yard pass that came on a third-and-16 at Miami last year. But there have also been times when he has looked like he’s never started a game before, and missed open targets.

That’s what Virginia Tech fans should expect this fall -- a little bit of both.

Thomas is going to experience some growing pains, but those within the program are confident in his abilities both as a leader and as a player. In addition to a favorable nonconference schedule to start the season, one of the biggest assets Thomas has working in his favor is the experience around him – veteran offensive linemen, senior receivers, a senior tight end, and a dynamic running back in David Wilson.

With the talent around him, there shouldn’t be much pressure on Thomas to win the games alone.

Nor should Hokies’ fans expect him to.

The Tyrod Taylor era is over. Thomas and Taylor are different in stature and style, and that will be reflected in the Hokies’ offense. If it looks any different, it’s not because Mike O’Cain is calling the plays instead of Bryan Stinespring, it’s because Thomas is a 6-foot-6 quarterback instead of the six-foot Taylor. It’s because Thomas won’t be scrambling like Taylor did, but he’ll be able to make passes Taylor couldn’t.

It will only be a matter of time before the comparisons between them disappear.

Ready or not, Logan Thomas is now the face of Virginia Tech’s offense.

ACC's lunchtime links

August, 26, 2011
I can't even begin to tell you how THRILLED I am to have actual games to write about next week instead of all this other ... stuff ...

ACC's lunchtime links

May, 24, 2011
Don't forget about the chat today. Remember, at least one question from all 12 schools is the goal. You in?
Last week we looked at which player in the ACC was the most difficult to replace and you had a chance to cast your vote.

My vote: Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor

Making the case for Taylor: Taylor's impact went beyond the field and in the huddle. He was the winningest quarterback in school history, but he was also the heart of the offense and a leader on the team when it needed it most. Last season, when the Hokies lost to James Madison, Taylor was one of the seniors who asserted himself and let the rest of the team know the season wasn't over. He made the right decisions off the field and was a game-changer on it. Taylor's ability to scramble and make plays with his feet likely won't be duplicated by Logan Thomas, as they both have different strengths. Taylor definitely left Thomas a blueprint for success.

Give the guy credit:I don't think you guys gave former Georgia Tech quarterback Joshua Nesbitt enough credit. Nesbitt, while not the most efficient passer in college football, was able to run that offense smoothly by his senior season. It took him more than a year to learn it, to properly execute the mesh, minimize fumbles and manage the entire offense. It doesn't happen overnight, and when the Jackets lost Nesbitt to a broken forearm in the Virginia Tech game, Georgia Tech's season instantly changed.
The "spring shoes to fill" series looked at the most difficult player to replace in each program. Five of them were quarterbacks, four linemen, two receivers and one linebacker.

Boston College: Anthony Castonzo
Clemson: Da'Quan Bowers
Duke: Abraham Kromah
Florida State: Rodney Hudson
Georgia Tech: Joshua Nesbitt
Maryland: Torrey Smith
Miami: Leonard Hankerson
North Carolina: T.J. Yates
NC State: Russell Wilson
Virginia: Marc Verica
Virginia Tech: Tyrod Taylor
Wake Forest: Russell Nenon

Hudson was the most decorated offensive lineman in ACC history. Taylor was the winningest quarterback in school history. Nesbitt was the most prolific rushing quarterback in league history. Bowers was honored as the nation's top defensive player. Almost all of them were record-setters. The ACC lost some tremendous talent from 2010 rosters.

Of these 12 players, I took the liberty of narrowing the list down to five choices for the most difficult player to replace in the ACC.

Virginia Tech spring wrap

May, 5, 2011
2010 overall record: 11-3

2010 conference record: 8-0

Returning starters

Offense: 6, defense: 6, kicker/punter: 0

Top returners

SE Danny Coale, FL Jarrett Boykin, RT Blake DeChristopher, DT Antoine Hopkins, LB Bruce Taylor, CB Jayron Hosley, FS Eddie Whitley

Key losses

QB Tyrod Taylor, RB Darren Evans, RB Ryan Williams, C Beau Warren, TE Andre Smith, DT John Graves, CB Rashad Carmichael, ROV Davon Morgan, PK Chris Hazley

2010 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Evans (854 yards)

Passing: Tyrod Taylor (2,743 yds)

Receiving: Boykin* (847 yds)

Tackles: Bruce Taylor (91)

Sacks: Steven Friday (8.5)

Interceptions: Hosley* (9)

Spring answers

1. A new Fab Four: Virginia Tech’s defensive line is oozing with talent and potential -- the kind that can resurrect the Hokies’ defense to the standard Bud Foster and fans are used to. All four projected starters are underclassmen, and redshirt sophomores J.R. Collins and James Gayle had a phenomenal spring. Derrick Hopkins couldn’t be blocked, and he, Collins and Gayle took their games to another level this spring.

2. Logan Thomas is ready. The first-year starting quarterback erased any lingering doubts about his ability to take over the offense and replace the winningest quarterback in school history. He’ll have some growing pains, but he’s got veteran receivers, four senior offensive linemen in front of him and an exceptional running back who can catch the ball out of the backfield in David Wilson.

3. Linebacker Tariq Edwards has replaced Lyndell Gibson. Edwards could have a breakout season, thanks in part to Gibson’s decision to transfer prior to spring practices. Foster has compared Edwards to Xavier Adibi as far as his size and speed. The redshirt sophomore is about 6-foot-2, runs well and is athletic.

Fall questions

1. Who’s the No. 2 QB? It’s still unsettled, as coach Frank Beamer praised redshirt freshman Mark Leal this spring, and Ricardo Young will increase the competition this summer when he returns from a foot injury he suffered during one of the scrimmages that caused him to miss the rest of the spring. Ju-Ju Clayton was the front-runner for the job entering the spring, but it could turn into a three-player battle this summer.

2. Defensive depth. The staff is excited about its starting lineup, but the lack of experience behind it remains a concern, particularly at linebacker where injuries depleted the group, and in the secondary, where Detrick Bonner and Theron Norman haven’t played a collegiate snap yet.

3. Kicking game. Will Danny Coale really be the Hokies’ starting receiver AND punter? He will if none of the other candidates beat him out for the job this summer. If Coale wins the job -- and it’s a very real possibility -- the logistics also remain a question. Will he warm up with the punters or run routes as a receiver? Will he run routes in his punting shoe? Beamer would prefer if Scott Demler and Ethan Keyserling win the job so it’s not an issue, but Beamer will go with the senior who has game experience if he’s the best choice. Cody Journell enters the summer as the No. 1 place-kicker, but it’s not a lock.

ACC's lunchtime links

May, 2, 2011
Winter conditioning -- check.
Signing day -- check.
Spring football -- check.
NFL draft -- check.

No offseason in the blogosphere -- check ...
ACC Players Taken in the NFL Draft

1 12 Christian Ponder, Florida State, QB Vikings
1 14 Robert Quinn, North Carolina, DE Rams
1 22 Anthony Castonzo, Boston College, T Colts
2 33 Ras-I Dowling, Virginia, CB Patriots
2 38 Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech, RB Cardinals
2 40 Bruce Carter, North Carolina, LB Cowboys
2 41 Jarvis Jenkins, Clemson, DT Redskins
2 46 Orlando Franklin, Miami, OL Broncos
2 50 Marcus Gilchrist, Clemson, CB Chargers
2 51 Da’ Quan Bowers, Clemson, DE Buccaneers
2 52 Marvin Austin, North Carolina, DT Giants
2 55 Rodney Hudson, Florida State, C-G Chiefs
2 58 Torrey Smith, Maryland, WR Ravens
2 59 Greg Little, North Carolina, WR Browns
2 60 Brandon Harris, Miami, CB Texans
3 67 Nate Irving, NC State, LB Broncos
3 79 Leonard Hankerson, Miami, WR Redskins
3 81 DeMarcus Van Dyke, Miami, CB Raiders
3 86 Allen Bailey, Miami, DE Chiefs
4 100 Da’Norris Searcy, North Carolina, S Bills
4 109 Colin McCarthy, Miami, ILB Titans
4 122 Chris Hairston, Clemson, T Bills
4 127 Rashad Carmichael, Virginia Tech, CB Texans
4 130 Jamie Harper, Clemson, RB Titans
5 133 Johnny White, North Carolina, RB Bills
5 152 T.J. Yates, North Carolina, QB Texans
6 171 Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina, LB Cardinals
6 173 Byron Maxwell, Clemson, DB Seahawks
6 180 Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech, QB Ravens
6 181 Richard Gordon, Miami, TE Raiders
6 192 Matt Bosher, Miami, P-PK Falcons
7 218 Ryan Taylor, North Carolina, TE Cowboys
7 221 Da’Rel Scott, Maryland, RB Giants
7 224 Markus White, Florida State, DE Redskins
7 225 Anthony Allen, Georgia Tech, RB Ravens

ACC Selections by Rounds

First 3
Second 12
Third 4
Fourth 5
Fifth 2
Sixth 5
Seventh 4

ACC Selections by Teams

North Carolina 9
Miami 8
Clemson 6
Florida State 3
Virginia Tech 3
Maryland 2
Boston College 1
Georgia Tech 1
NC State 1
Virginia 1

ACC's lunchtime links

April, 29, 2011
Never woulda guessed it ...

ACC's lunchtime links

April, 28, 2011
Let the draft dreams begin ...