NCF Nation: Sean Glennon
The two first-year starting quarterbacks last played against each other in high school -- when Glennon got the last word.
“We beat his team senior year,” Glennon said. “Hopefully it will be the same outcome.”
Get ready for a new era of quarterback rivalries in the ACC.
“It’s going to be awesome,” said Renner, whose father, Bill, was a punter for the Hokies and the Green Bay Packers. “We all know each other and have a little bond. All of the Virginia quarterbacks are trying to get ready to play.”
Almost half of the quarterbacks in the ACC are from the state of Virginia, and that will increase to six if Michael Rocco, David Watford or Ross Metheny wins the starting job at UVA. And of course, they all know former Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Clemson’s Tajh Boyd (Hampton), Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas (Lynchburg), Florida State’s EJ Manuel (Virginia Beach), NC State’s Glennon (Centreville, Va.), and North Carolina’s Renner (West Springfield) all have the Commonwealth connection, and all of them will be in their first year leading their respective offenses.
“Going back to Virginia Tech this season is going to be like a homecoming,” Boyd said of the Tigers’ Oct. 1 trip to Blacksburg. “I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said he recruited all of them.
“Renner, we liked him,” Beamer said. “His dad punted here. Everybody thinks they can play quickly or wants to play quickly, and who’s here affects some of those decisions. Manuel, we recruited him and always thought he was a terrific quarterback. Glennon, the style of quarterback we’ve had success with might have affected his decision. I think he’s terrific. I like Sean Glennon a lot, but I think Mike might be better.”
Boyd said he played with Thomas in the Army game, and he and Renner met their junior year. Both went to the Elite 11 camp.
“We always keep in touch,” Boyd said of Renner. “He came down not too long ago and hung out with us. We talk a little trash. He’s an exciting player. I know he didn’t play much last year, but in high school, the guy could move, he could throw.”
Thomas said he and Boyd text each other a lot, and he also knows Virginia’s Rocco well.
“We were friends long before this whole football rivalry thing,” Thomas said of Boyd. “We just talk about life in general, not really too much football.”
Watford is also from Hampton, and graduated from the same high school as Taylor.
Manuel said he’s closest with Taylor, and is Facebook friends with Glennon.
“I hope Mike and Tajh have successful seasons, especially Mike,” Manuel said. “Mike was kind of in the same situation I was -- had a guy in front of him that was really good. He was already there. I think he’ll do well if he has a chance to play this year.”
He’ll find out just how well on Oct. 29, when FSU hosts NC State.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Each team has one area, one phase of the game, one position group -- something -- that will help determine how its season unfolds. Here's a look at the keys to the season for each team in the ACC:
BOSTON COLLEGE -- The Eagles need to find a dependable leader at quarterback, somebody capable of managing the game without losing it for them. The rest of the pieces are in place on offense for the Eagles to have a respectable season, but they need to find their identity.
CLEMSON -- Considering much of the same talent returns from the team that received so much hype a year ago, it's up to the new staff to do what their predecessors couldn't, and contend for the Atlantic Division title. How first-year offensive coordinator Billy Napier and coach Dabo Swinney fare on the sidelines will be key.
DUKE -- Pave the way for quarterback Thaddeus Lewis and Re'quan Boyette. The Blue Devils have two standout players on offense, but they need the supporting cast. It should be a receiver-by-committee effort to replace Eron Riley, and if three new starters on the offensive line can give Lewis and Boyette the timing they need, the Blue Devils should surprise some people.
FLORIDA STATE -- The offensive line should be the best in the conference and could be one of the best in the country, even though there's still not a senior in the lineup. With so many questions on defense, this unit will be the anchor and help the offense ease the burden of a defense in transition.
GEORGIA TECH -- If the Jackets make a seamless transition on the defensive line, where they lost three NFL-bound starters, there's no reason Georgia Tech shouldn't be atop the Coastal Division standings again. With 19 starters returning, the only pieces that are missing are up front.
MARYLAND -- The Terps will fare as well as their offensive line, and it's a group that has 27 career starts up front. They lost five of their top seven linemen from a year ago, and the success of veteran quarterback Chris Turner and running back Da'Rel Scott will hinge upon the blocking and protection they get up front.
MIAMI -- Starting off strong and keeping Jacory Harris unscathed in the process will keep the Canes in the running to win the Coastal Division. Following the transfer of both backup quarterbacks, Miami can't afford to lose Harris, nor can it afford to lose its first four games.
NORTH CAROLINA -- Finding receivers and a cohesiveness on the offensive line would make Carolina a complete team. The Heels have a championship-caliber defense to work with, but replacing their top four receivers from a year ago could take some time.
NC STATE -- Staying healthy has been one of the Pack's biggest obstacles, if not the biggest, and before the season even started they lost their best player in linebacker Nate Irving. Cornerback DeAndre Morgan will miss the opener with an ankle injury. NC State is a better football team, but nobody will know it if key players continue to go down.
VIRGINIA -- Find playmakers, starting with the old Mikell Simpson. It's cliche, yes, but the Cavaliers lost their top five pass catchers from a year ago, their leading rusher and their top three linebackers. Gregg Brandon's spread offense will only be as effective as the players who execute it, and if Simpson returns to his 2007 form, he could be an X factor for this team.
VIRGINIA TECH -- Keeping Tyrod Taylor healthy is the only way the Hokies will challenge for their fourth ACC title since joining the conference. None of his backups have any collegiate experience, and Taylor's backups were needed a year ago. While some fans might not exactly miss Sean Glennon, he did win them an ACC title.
WAKE FOREST -- Find stability on defense. The Deacs can survive without the likes of Alphonso Smith and Aaron Curry because they've still got solid veteran players. If everyone knows their role, plays assignment football and doesn't try to do too much, Wake will win with a group effort.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
It was a game that resonated throughout Blacksburg for all of the wrong reasons, and Virginia Tech tight end Greg Boone hasn't forgotten it.
|Chris Keane/Icon SMI|
|Greg Boone finished third on the team with 22 receptions last season.|
Two years ago, Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan orchestrated an amazing comeback, throwing two touchdown passes in the final 2:11 for a 14-10 come-from-behind win in Lane Stadium on a Thursday night.
During that wacky 2007 season, Virginia Tech finished third in the final BCS standings behind LSU.
"If we would have won that game and won out, we probably would have been playing Ohio State in the national championship game," said Boone. "It's always been in the back of our heads and we always let it slip in a meaningful game. This year, we're trying to win it all."
And Boone plans on doing anything and everything he can to help.
"Since I'm going to be a senior, I'm going to have a lot of people looking up to me," he said. "And I don't want to be the one to have a disappointing season."
Boone played a significant role in the Hokies' offense during the last half of the 2008 season, and finished third on the team with 22 receptions. During a season in which passing touchdowns were hard to come by, Boone had 278 receiving yards and two touchdowns. It was his role in the "Wild Turkey" formation, though, that got people talking about the beefy, 6-foot-3, 287-pound tight end.
Offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring came up with the formation, a variation of Arkansas' Wild Hog, which lined up running back Darren McFadden at quarterback. Boone, who was already conveniently practicing at quarterback because of the injuries to Tyrod Taylor and Sean Glennon, lined up in the shotgun seven times against Maryland and caught the Terps off-guard.
Boone, who was recruited to Virginia Tech as a quarterback but moved to tight end prior to the 2006 season, said he hasn't thrown the ball much lately, but he did this spring. Only recently have the players started getting together to run some routes.
"I spent a fair amount of time with the quarterbacks, just basically seeing the things like how they take the drop steps on different plays, different reads in the passing game," he said.
During his career, Boone has lined up on the line, in the slot and in the backfield. He's big, strong and tough to tackle. He was also a safety and a linebacker in high school.
What position can't he play?
"I probably could play them all," he said.
Boone said the one thing that will separate the Hokies from the rest of the Coastal Division this fall will be the "want to" factor.
"We had a lot of young guys on the team last year that really stepped up," he said. "We have to make sure they don't get comfortable with what we did last year, because last year's in the past. We have to move onto bigger things this year."
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
One of the major themes this fall in the ACC will be keeping starting quarterbacks healthy because of the lack of experience behind them. Virginia Tech, which saw both Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor get hurt against Florida State last year, knows this scenario all-too well. How will the Hokies fare this season if Taylor's ankle fails him again? Based in large part by experience and some on recruiting hype, here's a look at who's got the best backup situations in the ACC -- and who doesn't.
1. Virginia -- Say what you will about the Cavaliers' chances this fall, but no team has more experience at quarterback right now. Jameel Sewell, Marc Verica and Vic Hall have all started a game. That, in itself, is progress from last season. And they all have different strengths. Sewell is an elusive runner, Verica is more of a drop-back passer, and Hall, well, he was a cornerback with tremendous athletic ability.
2. Georgia Tech -- If need be, the Yellow Jackets can also go three deep, as starter Josh Nesbitt has experience behind him in Jaybo Shaw and a talented newcomer in redshirt freshman Tevin Washington. Shaw quarterbacked the Yellow Jackets almost exclusively in two games last season -- a 38-7 win over Mississippi State and a 27-0 victory over Duke. When Nesbitt hurt his hamstring eight snaps into the Mississippi State game, Shaw took over and promptly threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas. By the final buzzer, Georgia Tech had accumulated 500 yards of total offense.
3. NC State -- The Wolfpack finally have a prized recruit to fall back on should Russell Wilson need some help. Mike Glennon, who is perfectly suited for Tom O'Brien's Matt Ryan-esque style, made significant progress this spring and could see some playing time even if Wilson is 100 percent. Glennon was rated the No. 3 quarterback in his class and No. 32 player overall in the ESPN 150.
4. Duke -- Sean Renfree earned himself some playing time behind Thaddeus Lewis this fall and will use this season to ease into the role of next year's starting quarterback. Renfree had originally committed to Georgia Tech, but was also recruited by Tennessee when David Cutcliffe was there. He's the real deal.
5. Florida State -- The Seminoles probably would have been moved up a notch or two on this list had E.J. Manuel actually made it through more than one spring practice without hurting himself. But FSU offensive coordinator/head coach in waiting Jimbo Fisher has high hopes for his first hand-picked quarterback.
6. North Carolina -- The Tar Heels have the Paulus who actually IS a quarterback, and he's even got some experience at it. The problem is, Mike Paulus was 4-for-13 for 33 yards with two interceptions in four games last year. Paulus entered the Virginia Tech game when T.J. Yates was injured and was 3-for-8 for 23 yards and two picks. There's a reason Cam Sexton took over last year, but Sexton has since transferred.
7. Clemson -- If by chance Kyle Parker wins the starting job, then Willy Korn will be like 1a. Korn played two games as a true freshman in 2007 then suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. He played in six games last year, including a start against Georgia Tech in Dabo Swinney's first game as a head coach. His career efficiency rating is 132.9 and he has completed 69.4 percent of his passes. Those are starter stats, but Parker had an impressive spring.
8. Wake Forest -- The Demon Deacons at least have depth. They had a competition between Ryan McManus, Ted Stachitas and Skylar Jones this spring, and McManus came out on top heading into summer camp. McManus is a former walk-on who has seen most of his playing time as a holder and on special teams, Stachitas is dealing with a shoulder injury, and Jones finished his first spring working exclusively at quarterback.
9. Miami -- At least Randy Shannon made a decision and decided Taylor Cook earned the No. 2 spot at the end of the spring, but it's not a done deal. Cannon Smith will continue to push Cook this summer, but neither one of them have taken a collegiate snap yet. Cook, though, was a very highly touted recruit, ranked the No. 9 quarterback in his class and No. 108 in the ESPN 150.
10. Virginia Tech -- Joseph Ju-Ju Clayton won the backup job over Marcus Davis, but he's still a redshirt freshman who hasn't been tested when the lights come on. Clayton was projected by some to be a better defensive back in college. He wasn't as highly touted a recruit as Manuel, Cook, Glennon or Renfree, but the Hokies are known for finding talent and making the most of somewhat unheralded recruits.
11. Maryland -- The Terps' depth took a hit when Josh Portis decided to transfer, but sophomore Jamarr Robinson had an impressive spring. He completed 15 of 19 passes, including his final 12 attempts, for 253 yards and four touchdowns.
12. Boston College -- The Eagles don't know who their starting quarterback is, let alone their No. 2. Dominique Davis struggled in the ACC championship game and the bowl game -- both losses -- but he has the most experience among Justin Tuggle and Codi Boek.
MIAMI -- The two offensive stars in Virginia Tech's first FedEx Orange Bowl win never figured to play such prominent roles on the team this season.
|Mark Zerof/US Presswire|
|Virginia Tech running back Darren Evans had 28 carries for 153 yards and a touchdown in the Hokies' 20-7 win over Cincinnati.|
Sophomore quarterback Tyrod Taylor was slated to redshirt before he became the starter in the third week of the season. Redshirt freshman Darren Evans never expected to be the main ball carrier and probably wouldn't have if Kenny Lewis didn't suffer a season-ending injury.
Fate works in funny ways. Taylor softened the Cincinnati offense up with his scrambling and passing skills in the first half, and Evans bulldozed his way game MVP honors in the second half, when he rushed for 101 of his 153 yards.
The two have suddenly made the perennially low-scoring Hokies look like a menacing offense. The team scored 30 in the ACC title game against Boston College and rolled up 398 yards over a veteran Cincinnati defense in Thursday night's 20-7 win.
"We couldn't listen to what other people were saying when they said we couldn't move the ball or that we had no passing game," Evans said. "We just had to go out and do what got us here and play with a lot of intensity."
Cincinnati was a team that had contained mobile quarterbacks Pat White and Matt Grothe in the Big East this season. But Taylor befuddled the Bearcats much of the first half with his speed and ability to keep his eyes upfield. He completed 11 of 16 passes for 125 yards in the half and juked out two defenders on his way to a 17-yard second quarter touchdown run.
"He's very elusive," Cincinnati defensive tackle Terrill Byrd said. "He's going to be a very good quarterback in the near future. He did a good job tonight doing what he does best."
Taylor got thrown into the fire as a freshman when he replaced struggling starter Sean Glennon. His passing skills still needed a lot of work, though, so the Hokies' coaching staff planned on giving him this year on the sidelines to improve. Instead, after Glennon was ineffective early, Taylor came back into the starting unit. Taylor had his own problems and missed time with an ankle injury, but he rebounded to win ACC title game MVP honors.
"It was unfortunate that things happened at the beginning of the year to take his redshirt off him," tight end Greg Boone said. "But I think we rallied around him as a team and kept this thing moving forward."
Leading 10-7 at halftime, the Hokies turned to what they traditionally do best to open the second half: pound the ball. That meant handing the ball 18 times to the 6-foot, 210-pound Evans, who plowed through gaping holes created by the offensive line. Virginia Tech had the ball almost the entire third quarter and won the time-of-possession battle by more than 19 minutes.
Evans ran for 1,112 yards and 10 touchdowns this season after coming in with modest goals.
"We had a lot of talent, so I thought the ball would be spread out a lot more," he said. "I thank the coaches a lot, because they put a lot of confidence in me, keeping me out there the whole season like that. They could have easily been switching and rotating running backs in, and I appreciate that."
Said Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer: "To me he played faster as the year went along, and I think that came with confidence and getting more carries from that tailback position. And I thought here at the end, he really played fast.
"I like big old guys that run fast, too."
The Hokies' offense won't ever be confused for Florida or Oklahoma, who will take this same Dolphin Stadium field a week from now. Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly said his senior-laden defense, which was one of the best in the Big East all season, didn't play bring its usual effort to the postseason.
"They didn't score 50 points against us; it was 20 to 7," Kelly said. "We had hats in position that normally make plays. If we're playing Pat White and West Virginia ... we would have given up 250 yards to their run game. We just didn't tackle the way we needed to."
Still, it's hard not to be impressed with how far the Virginia Tech offense has come this season -- and how much better it can be in the future.
Along with the Taylor and Evans, the Hokies' top three wide receivers in the Orange Bowl were freshmen, plus Evans' top backup, Josh Oglesby. The entire starting offensive line from Thursday night returns in 2009, including freshman guard Jaymes Brooks, who played admirably while replacing academically-ineligible senior Nick Marshman.
"There are no guarantees in this business -- you've got to get down to it," Beamer said. "But I do feel like we've got a lot of good players in our program and a lot of them are young, and a lot of them have got more time at Virginia Tech."
And when next season starts, no one will be surprised to see Taylor and Evans as the Hokies' two most prominent offensive stars.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Virginia Tech has used all three quarterbacks (well, two and their tight end), but Miami has only needed one. Robert Marve, save for his one fumble that didn't cost the Canes, hasn't made many mistakes and has gotten his team out of jams with his ability to escape and has thrown the ball away instead of costing his team yards.
The Canes are giving the Hokies a dose of their own medicine here in Dolphin Stadium, and if Miami's receivers would be able to hold onto the ball, the offense would be twice as effective. Marve is giving them catchable balls and Patrick Nix isn't afraid to throw it downfield.
Virginia Tech used Sean Glennon, Tyrod Taylor and tight end Greg Boone on their final possession and it hasn't flustered Miami. This is one of those times when it can't hurt to have a former defensive coordinator as your head coach.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
This post would be much easier if every week it was what we didn't learn in the ACC, because as far as the ACC championship race is concerned, it was another Saturday that revealed little. So I'll touch a bit on how Saturday affected the standings, but will have more of a focus on individual teams.
1. It's a three-team race in both divisions heading into Week 12. North Carolina, Miami and Virginia Tech are the Coastal Division leaders, while Florida State, Wake Forest and Maryland lead the Atlantic. They're all two-loss teams. That said, the teams with three losses still can't be ruled out. What makes life difficult now for Georgia Tech is the fact that all three of its losses are to Coastal Division opponents. Count Clemson, NC State and Duke out. A three-loss team might make it to Tampa, but not a four-loss team. And of the three of them, Duke still has the best chance to make it to a bowl game.
2. Maryland has more problems than its inconsistency. The Terps had the leading rusher in the ACC and couldn't get positive yardage on the ground. Not only couldn't the Terps create turnovers, they also couldn't stop the run when they knew it was coming again and again. Virginia Tech was averaging 280 yards per game, and racked up 400 against Maryland. And it's never a good sign when the head coach is calling out his defensive coordinator on national television.
3. Boston College doesn't need an outstanding offense to win football games. The Eagles have an outstanding defense to rely on instead, which is why they are still in the mix in the Atlantic Division. BC quarterback Chris Crane didn't have to get fancy, all he had to do was manage the offense without turning it over.
4. The ACC is turnover happy. Boston College forced Notre Dame to hand it over five times, Wake Forest forced four Virginia turnovers, and Georgia Tech gave it to North Carolina three times. Wake Forest, North Carolina and Virginia Tech are all ranked among the top 10 teams in the nation in turnover margin, and Boston College and Duke are tied at 27. Boston College and North Carolina are tied for the national lead with 18 interceptions each. Wake Forest and Georgia Tech both have 15.
5. Virginia Tech has an offense. No, it's not called the Spread HD. More like the Run DE. Darren Evans proved he is capable of leading the Hokies' running game, especially when he gets good blocking from the receivers, tight ends and linemen. The question now for the Hokies is how they'll handle their quarterbacks once Tyrod Taylor is 100 percent. Sean Glennon wasn't flawless, but he did enough to win, took some sacks for the team and didn't turn the ball over.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Virginia Tech quarterback Sean Glennon is a believer in fate. After all, his has turned out pretty well despite being demoted -- twice -- in favor of the Hokies' more mobile quarterback, Tyrod Taylor.
|AP Photo/Don Petersen|
|Sean Glennon threw for 127 yards and a touchdown Thursday night.|
But when it comes to the everything-happens-for-a-reason cliché, Glennon has been at a loss to explain why, twice, he has had to earn his starting job back.
"Sometimes you can't see the reason, and trust me, I did not see this reason," said Glennon, who replaced the injured Taylor and helped lead the Hokies to a critical 23-13 win over the Terps on Thursday night. "I was like 'come on, we've already been through this once. Why are you doing it again?'
"As much as I may have complained about it, or didn't like it, in the back of my mind I had to keep that faith this is happening for a reason. I don't know what it is, but it's happening for a reason. I don't know what's going to happen in the coming weeks, but maybe it's the start of why it happened."
Or maybe, Glennon was just the healthiest option on a night the Hokies were in dire need of a healthy quarterback. Nothing, he knows, is ever a guarantee. Regardless, Glennon was given a second chance to prove himself. Again. And for the second straight season, he proved he's good enough to win.
It's déjà vu of his 2007 season, right down to the ankle injury to Taylor.
Glennon was angry, mad, "whatever you want to call it" when he was benched in early September 2007 in favor of Taylor. For the past two seasons, the staff had intended to redshirt Taylor, but last year he started five games until he injured his ankle at Duke. Glennon got his chance at redemption and played well enough that it forced the staff to use the two-quarterback system -- something it wanted to avoid if possible this year.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Well, the quarterback mystery is over. Sean Glennon has been running the offense and he's been doing it effectively. If he keeps it up, this might be the ACC's feel-good story of the year. Quarterback benched, quarterback comeback.
Virginia Tech has been running the ball well and did a good job of getting its tight end involved. In order to keep this lead, the defense can't give up the big plays, something Frank Beamer had preached all week.
While Maryland's first drive was halted, it is still getting away with things like a 26-yard pass on third down. The Hokies have done a good job of containing ACC leading rusher Da'Rel Scott.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Hello from Lane Stadium, where it is an unseasonably warm day and the weather feels just about perfect. There are 18 NFL scouts representing 14 different teams and eight bowl scouts with five different bowls here. The Hokies will wear their all-maroon unis for the first time since last year's game against Florida State. No doubt Bud Foster will have his defense jacked up, but can they overcome the experience of the Terps? Here are some keys to tonight's game:
THREE KEYS FOR VIRGINIA TECH
• Find consistent quarterback play and protect him, whoever that is. Word from within the program is that Sean Glennon and Cory Holt are the healthiest options right now, but all three, including Tyrod Taylor, will dress and can play.
• Limit big plays. Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer noted Darrius Heyward-Bey's 76-yard reverse against Clemson. ACC leading rusher Da'Rel Scott is also expected to play. The Hokies' defense has allowed 34 plays of 20 yards or longer this season.
• Get back to Beamerball. With the offense obviously struggling, the Hokies need to win the battle on special teams, get good field position, and win like they usually do, with defense.
THREE KEYS FOR MARYLAND
• Give Chris Turner time to throw. He's accurate when he has time to be. Turner is No. 2 in the league in pass efficiency and has been a different quarterback since he threw three interceptions at Middle Tennessee. He has eight touchdowns and six interceptions this season.
• Stop the run. Virginia Tech's rushing offense has steadily declined since the Nebraska game, and it's been the Hokies' priority this week to get it back. Maryland, though, knows it's the foundation of Virginia Tech's offense.
• Create turnovers. Virginia Tech just doesn't give it away. The Hokies are No. 2 in the league in turnover margin (+10), but the Terps have put an emphasis on putting a dent in that at practice this week. It's one way to overcome the intangibles of play in Lane Stadium on a Thursday night.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Maryland linebacker Moise Fokou doesn't know them personally, but he rattles off the names of Virginia Tech's playmakers like they're on a first-name basis: Macho, Tyrod, Glennon, Holt.
"We like to familiarize ourselves with our opponents," Fokou said.
He just doesn't know who their starting quarterback will be.
It's remained a mystery to just about everyone except the Hokies this week, as starters Tyrod Taylor and Sean Glennon both suffered left ankle sprains during the Florida State game and spent most of their bye week wearing protective boots. They practiced in limited capacity this week, but Cory Holt, the Hokies' third-string quarterback-turned-receiver-turned quarterback again, was preparing as if he was the starter. They all bring a different dimension to the game, but neither team seems overly concerned about it, despite the weighty implications of the game in the conference race.
Virginia Tech, as expected, has done nothing but express confidence in Holt, a fifth-year senior who played admirably in a tough situation at Florida State. And the Terps have zeroed in on the Hokies' running game, regardless of who starts at quarterback.
"They're a running football team," said senior defensive tackle Jeremy Navarre. "Whoever they put back there, whoever starts, they're going to stick with what they do best and they're going to run the ball. They've got a big offensive line. All year long their main thing has been to run the ball. If you don't stop this team from running the ball, they're going to do it all game long."
Unless, of course, Glennon is playing quarterback. He's the one who can throw it. (Although tight end Greg Boone, who was moved to backup behind Holt when the starters went down, claims he'll throw it 80 yards every time if he gets in there. Seriously). Taylor is the one who brings a different dimension with his feet. He has had seven running plays of 20 yards or more this season and is the team's second leading rusher.
"I think Holt is kind of a blend between both of them," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "He's very mobile. I don't think he's as fast as Taylor, but I think he can do all the things that Taylor does. He's a big, tall, strong guy just like Glennon. He's in between. They can go either way with him. I thought he did a tremendous job last week having not gotten a lot of reps. He ran the option, he threw the ball ... they must have a lot of confidence in him he can do the things they ask him to do with very little reps."
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.
|Doug Benc/Getty Images|
|Virginia Tech's Cory Holt is preparing to start at quarterback against Maryland on Nov. 6.|
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."
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring every season sets the goal of having five or more plays of at least 20 yards in every game. In 2007, an ACC championship season, they hit that target every weekend, and were well above it on several occasions.
|AP Photo/Dave Weaver|
|Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor added a spark to the offense earlier in the season but the Hokies continue to struggle to move the ball.|
This year, it hasn't happened once.
"This year, most of the time we've been two [plays of at least 20 yards] or less, and all of a sudden you say, OK, if it's 20 yards, and you're three plays less than that, that's 60 yards a game right there you're not reeling in," Stinespring said.
Let's face it: There are a lot of yards the Hokies aren't reeling in.
Boston College held Virginia Tech to a season-low 240 yards last weekend, and the Eagles do deserve credit for having one of the best defenses in the country. But Virginia Tech's struggles on offense began long before their trip to Chestnut Hill, where the offense was finally exposed in their first loss in six games.
Virginia Tech (5-2, 2-1 ACC) enters Saturday's game at Florida State (5-1, 2-1) with one of the worst offenses in the ACC, and the 110th offense in the country out of 119 FBS teams. The Hokies' passing offense is No. 114, and has been the core of their ineptitude. For the second-straight weekend, Virginia Tech will face one of the best defenses in the country on the road. This one, though, the staff thinks is even better.
"We've got to find a way to be more productive," Stinespring said. "We've got to find a way to get over this hump a little bit. We've got to find a way. That's our charge. It's not an easy venture."
Coach Frank Beamer's decision to name Tyrod Taylor starting quarterback earlier this season sparked the offense. However, Taylor can't do it all by himself -- not when receivers are dropping balls like they did against the Eagles or when the offensive line isn't getting that one more block needed to open up the holes for the running game.
"I don't think there's any question we need to execute by everyone better offensively," Beamer said. "We need to catch the ball better ... I think Tyrod is a very accurate thrower, that's not the key issue. We need to protect better at times. Need to run the ball better for sure. There's no question we need to improve as a football team and as an offensive football team."
Beamer repeatedly said this week that Taylor is an accurate passer, but conceded there are some fundamentals he could improve upon. The staff plans to tweak Taylor's throwing motion in the offseason.
"I think he's got a little hitch in his delivery you'd like to work on," Beamer said. "But again, it wasn't just Tyrod. It's a little bit of all of us."
Still, those within the program say they haven't given any serious consideration to giving Sean Glennon another look, or any other personnel changes. It's a matter of getting the guys they do have to play better.
The coaches are putting the players in position to be successful, but many times they're not executing. Stinespring has had to scale back his playbook because of inexperience, and said he has to be careful not to ask his young players to make too many adjustments. The one thing he doesn't want to do is start pressing, or having them play tight.
"We just kind of hit the proverbial brick wall a little bit," Stinespring said. "Some of our inexperience has caught up a little bit with us. We just haven't made enough plays. That's been an issue with us from the beginning of the year right on through. When we've made plays, we've been viable."
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Purdue has switched quarterbacks in the fourth quarter of its matchup with Penn State (the Boilermakers are down 20-6), pulling record-setter Curtis Painter in favor of Joey Elliott. Head coach Joe Tiller threatened to make this move two weeks ago against Central Michigan before Painter responded nicely in a victory.
It has been a bad year for senior quarterbacks around the country -- Todd Boeckman, Nate Longshore, Sean Glennon -- and Painter is the latest name added to the list. His numbers are extremely impressive, but Painter continues to struggle against the Big Ten's top four teams (0-7 record against Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Penn State).
Painter completed 12 of 22 passes for 112 yards and an interception before getting the hook today. He has started 37 consecutive games.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
|Scott Cunningham/Getty Images|
|Tyrod Taylor was 9-for-14 for just 48 yards, but also ran for 74 yards on 15 attempts. He scored on a 2-yard run late in the first half.|
BLACKSBURG, Va. -- This is not about what Virginia Tech quarterback Sean Glennon can't do.
It's about what Tyrod Taylor can do in the absence of pass protection, experienced receivers and a go-to tailback. Taylor can scramble, can make something out of nothing and he can spread defenses out.
He did all of that in Virginia Tech's 20-17 win over Georgia Tech on Saturday in the Hokies' ACC opener while Glennon watched every snap from the sideline.
The Hokies' two-quarterback system is officially down to one. This is Taylor's team now.
"Sean Glennon is a good, good quarterback," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. "He's been a great quarterback for us. He's been a great team player for us. I feel for him. I really feel for him. But Tyrod just fits where we are as a football team right now. I'm all about team. How many wins can we get? You've just got to put those pieces together and Tyrod right now is one of those pieces. A major piece."
Quarterbacks coach Mike O'Cain said it would've been a much easier decision if Glennon would "stink it up," but Glennon helped lead the Hokies to the 2007 ACC title and hasn't played poorly this season. This is not sitting well with him. Nor should it. But, like O'Cain said, if they want to win, they see no alternative.
"We have no other move," O'Cain said. "That's what I told him, we don't have another tight end, we don't have any more wide receivers, we don't have another tailback we can stick in the game. The only move is this one. It's unfortunate, but that's the reality of what we thought we had to do to win football games. It's not him. I don't want anybody to think we are blaming him because we are absolutely not."
Taylor is now 6-0 as a starter. He was the team's second leading rusher against Georgia Tech with 74 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries, including a 23-yard run on the final drive of the second quarter that he celebrated by beating his chest.
"He's a tough guy to tackle, I'll tell you that," Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said. "You know he's going to run the ball, and we still couldn't tackle him."
The passing game was almost as non-existent as option-loving Georgia Tech's. Taylor was 9-for-14 for 48 yards. He said he would like to throw more, but "the game dictates how the play calling goes."
"We did call some plays that were going down field," he said. "Some protection got messed up, switched up, miscommunication and I had to check down sometimes."
That's how it's going to be, at least until Virginia Tech's pass protection improves and the receivers begin to run better routes. Taylor threw the ball just 14 times, the longest pass going for 10 yards. The staff had called three or four downfield passes that Taylor didn't get off, and another two or three pass plays expected to go about 15 or 20 yards that Taylor decided to pull down.
"That's a thing we have to live with," O'Cain said. "Sometimes it's going to be good, sometimes it's not going to be good. You live with that. I don't want to coach him and tie his athleticism down. Standing in the pocket, wanting to b a great pocket passer, that's not where he is right now. He's a good passer, but he has to be a good passer when he feels comfortable being a good passer.
"That's the way we have to play offensively. We're not good enough. It's a work in progress with us offensively, and it's going to be a work in progress, maybe all the way 'til the end of the season. It's going to be work."
That's the difference between Taylor and Glennon, though. Taylor didn't have to throw the ball to win this game.
"I think he makes a tremendous difference," O'Cain said. "He puts a pressure on a defense that nobody else can put on them in terms of their pass rush lanes and things like that. He's always a threat to pull it down, that affects coverage, that affects linebacker drops, that affects a lot of things."
Glennon the most.