Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The VT QB Situation

Passing the Reins

by Mad Jay

To those of you expecting a big ol’ dose of “I-told-you-so” about Sean Glennon I am sorry to disappoint, but that is not what this blog is about. No, I was never a fan of Sean Glennon’s performance on the field, but let me tell you something about this young man: he is a Hokie and a competitor and as a person he deserves our respect.

Glennon was recruited to play for the Hokies and usually what happens is that the offensive coordinator molds his offensive philosophy, game-plan and play calling around the talents of the starting QB. It should be designed to maximize the QB’s strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Glennon did not get that from the Hokies’ offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring. Glennon was thrust into the role vacated by Marcus Vick and that was that. Stinespring’s changes in the offensive gameplan between 2005 (Vick) and 2006 (Glennon) were subtle to put it very kindly and completely ineffective to put it truthfully. On top of all of this, Glennon played the entire 2006 season making the best of it that he could while fans EVERYWHERE (yours truly included) piled on and called for a change at QB. Follow that up with one of the worst 2nd half performances ever displayed by a Hokie QB in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl and the insults got even worse.

All Glennon did was double his efforts in the weight room and film room and return in the spring without hanging his head. After a spring and summer of hard work, he threw a pick on the first play against ECU and proceeded to follow that with one of his best days as a Hokie playing up to the best of his ability. He may not deserve to be the starting QB from an ability standpoint because it’s not fair to the rest of the team, but he took accountability and he never threw his porous offensive line under the bus. Those of you deriding his comments about transferring and being mad about the change, put yourself in his shoes and see if you wouldn’t be pissed about getting benched. See if you would have the moxie to face reporters not only after the LSU game itself but then on Monday after the announcement is made that Taylor is the starter for the Ohio game. I hope Glennon stays with the Hokies and gets his focus back on the team because he goes about things the right way and can serve as a good example to the other QB’s on the roster. And I bet you that whatever field he goes into, he will be successful in the long run because he seems to be made of the right stuff as a person.

Ok, now let’s turn our attention to the new young leader of this offense – Tyrod Taylor. This sounds crazy (hopefully you, my Calm and Beloved Reader, know me well enough to know that I don’t just jump on bandwagons) but I’m drinking the Taylor Kool-Aid right now after only seeing 2 ½ quarters of game play. There are three reasons why.
  1. I can already tell that he has more ability – running AND throwing- than Glennon had. He made a play (if you TiVO-ed the LSU game, skip ALL the way to the end for the final possession with 15 seconds left) that is what being a play-maker is all about. This play is what I’ve said for two years that you have to have at the QB position of an elite football program. It’s a play that you say “Wow, there are only a handful of QB’s playing college football that can do that.”

    On 4th and 18, Taylor takes the snap and, of course, the offensive line breaks down. One defensive lineman rushes in and Taylor dispatches him with a quick juke to the right. The 2nd defensive lineman has an angle, but Taylor outruns him and while on a 3/4 speed gallop to the right, he throws a ball 40 yards down-field to the goal-line right into the hands of backup WR Brandon Dillard who happens to be well covered. Obviously, being the type of night it was, Dillard dropped the ball (man I wouldn’t have wanted to be Dillard jogging to the sideline after that play). But my first point is made – the kid can play and he’s only a true freshman.
  2. He ALREADY has the respect of his team and they are ready to follow him. In watching and reading interviews from Branden Ore to Richard Graham to Carlton Powell (who nicknamed him “The Prodigy” after the first scrimmage), Taylor has won them over and they’re ready to play for him. You could see the spirit of the entire offense lift when Taylor came into the game against LSU. Keep in mind he was going up against probably the best defense in the country and in his first game ever he led the Hokies on their only scoring drive. If you’re still not convinced, read what Eddie Royal had to say to columnist Kyle Tucker contrasting Taylor and Glennon:

    "He throws a harder ball. It comes out with a lot of pop, and you’ve really got to look the ball all the way in."

    "You’ve got to play with your eyes. Tyrod definitely does that. He’s not afraid to put it up there and let us make plays. That’s what we really like about him."

    "Tyrod brings a certain type of swagger to the offense. He brings a confidence to the offense. You know that you can win behind this guy."

    I have said on here several times before that Glennon is the strongest QB the program has ever had. And I have dissected why his ball doesn’t have any zip. Taylor has a compact, quick throwing motion and he delivers the ball with “pop”. But the bottom line is to read what Eddie doesn’t come out and say but certainly implied in those quotes – Taylor brings X, Y and Z to the table and Glennon didn’t. Remember that Royal was a high school teammate of Glennon and is one of his best friends on the team. Imagine what those players who don’t have that type of relationship with Glennon must think.

  3. Poise, poise, poise. Old timers like me remember a run that Herschel Walker had as a true freshman at Georgia in his first game ever (for you young folks, search “Herschel Walker” on Youtube).

    Against Tennessee in the fourth quarter, Walker took the handoff and broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage. On his way into the end zone he smashed into highly touted (and future NFLer – Go Cowboys) safety Bill Bates and completely ran over him. The Georgia color commentator entered this gem into the radio broadcasting annals "OH YOU HERSCHEL WALKER!!! He ran right over two guys. My God a freshman!!!"

    Fast forward to last Saturday night. Taylor in his first ever game as a freshman is faced with a 2nd and 7 on the VT 38 yd line. On a called pass play, Taylor dropped back and then sensing the rush he stepped up into the pocket and ran wild for a 25 yard gain against the incredibly fast LSU defense, moving the ball deep into LSU territory. Now remember that this is his first ever big play as a college football player, and I’ve seen 5th year seniors get up and dance and primp for the cameras like actors on an audition when they make even a decent play. Taylor just gets up, flips the ball to the ref and jogs back to the huddle. Not even a Tiger Woods fist pump!! It was just as impressive as Herschel’s run because it was just so atypical of a true freshman.

And talking about poise, maybe Taylor’s most impressive achievement was that while he was at QB, the team was lined up in the right formation every time, there were no delay of game penalties, and no timeouts at the line of scrimmage because the clock was about to expire. All in the crazy loud confines of LSU’s Tiger Stadium – a venue renowned around the country for its night game atmosphere. As Stuart Scott says on ESPN “He was as cool as the other side of the pillow”. It was hard to believe I was watching a true freshman that’s when I realized that this guy could be the real deal.

Of course there were freshman mistakes like not stepping into his throw on an out route that was almost picked off and throwing behind guys on a few short passes, but Taylor can be coached up in those areas. I think the coaches made the right move in going with Tyrod Taylor as the starter and I look forward to seeing what he can do with a full week of 1st string snaps under his belt. Stay tuned for TSF’s Game Preview later this week.


Slammy D said...

Classy and insightful post, Jay. Thanks for your efforts.

My left foot said...

I too enjoyed the post. However, I restate that I think SG's discussions with the media were a bit bush league. We can always use the "he's just a kid" card when it comes to college atheletes. It's no excuse to be petty. The reality is that he's a 22 year old man and while his feelings are understandable, sharing them with Randy King or whoever is not productive. What if he has to go out and play again this year? After he's publically expressed the desire to leave the team? Not cool. It points to the fact that switching was the right move (which I think we all agree on).

MadJay said...

my left foot,

You make a great point about his sharing his views on the QB situation the same day the decision was announced. He probably thought he was doing the right thing in stepping up and being available to the media.

The real mistake was in the coaching staff making Glennon available. There should have been a statement made to the effect of:

"Sean is a competitor and he is obviously unhappy with the decision. We have told him to be sure he is ready the same as we told Tyrod. The #2 QB is always one snap away from being in the game."

This would have given Glennon the time to reflect on the matter and get advice from people that he trusts. The way I understand it his transfer-and-play options are nonexistent because he's already used a redshirt and he only has 1 year of eligibility left. Whatever happens, it was a tough spot to be in and I bet none of us would have been willing to trade places with him on Monday.

Anand "EhhTee" Trivedi said...

If he were to transfer, not that I'm saying that he will/should/etc., his only option would be to go down to Div. II, III, or NAIA ball. This would be his only real shot at starting next year.