Hitch? Wasn't that a movie staring Will Smith? This weeks big topic -- a corollary to the zero points scoring offense in Chestnut Hill -- is Tyrod Taylor's throwing motion; something Frank Beamer, regrettably, called a "hitch". This is something that Quarterbacks Coach Mike O'Cain described as "really not a hitch. It's just a little thing... He's been doing it, and it takes time." The question becomes, can he correct, or at least adjust, in time for Saturday's game against the Seminoles?
This Saturday, the Hokies travel down to Tallahassee to complete the back end of the home-home match up that won't happen again until 2012. Last year, the Seminoles came to town and would eventually take on the leadership of quarterback Christian Ponder. Ponder, then a redshirt freshman, took over for Drew Weatherford who was knocked out of the game in the second quarter by Brandon Flowers. Ponder, a third stringer then, had never taken a collegiate snap. He played well as he added an element of mobility that the Hokies defense has had consistent problems defending. However, the Hokies defense prevailed and the Hokies won 40-21.
This year, Ponder is bigger, stronger, and more experienced. He's led the Seminoles to a 5-1 start with their only loss coming against Wake Forest. Wake, as with much of the ACC, has looked like a powerhouse some weeks, and a division 1AA team on others most notably last week when they got shutout by another team with that same characteristic, the Maryland Terrapins. Furrer4heisman at Gobbler Country interviewed FSUncensored of Tomahawk Nation. FSUncesored stated, "Ponder has grown primarily because he's had actual game experience. He's learning to trust his pre-snap reads, and that's a big part of Jimbo's offense."
They later go on to talk about inconsistent play of the offensive line and the team in general. Ponder's mobility will obviously plague the Hokies. Of late, the Hokies have been over-pursuing in the backfield and under-covering in the secondary. It's a combination that spells trouble on plays that look like tackles for losses but end up large gains for the opposing offenses. Add to the mix a mobile quarterback and we could be in for a long afternoon. [Keys to a Hokie Victory] Defensive Coordinator Bud Foster needs to get it into the boys' heads that they need to stay at home and stay on their assignments. Doing so will limit Ponder's big play ability.
Last year, Tyrod Taylor surprised the Seminoles and he was able to have a career day. Taylor came in to replace an injured Sean Glennon so the Seminoles didn't know what to expect. The second quarter scramble, now infamous in the state of Florida, was on the highlight reel all week. The 38-yard scramble on what looked like an impossible third and thirty-one (not exaggerating) kept the Hokies drive alive which would lead to a touchdown. Florida State is more than familiar with Virginia Tech lightning quick quarterbacks. In 1999, Michael Vick was able to dazzle Seminole fans. Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews reflected, "He [Taylor] is one of the most talented scramblers that we've faced since we've been here... And we've played against some good ones."
This year, they'll be ready. Taylor, and his "hitch", will not have the luxury of surprise. Expect a spy, perhaps of the likes of LB Derek Nicholson who leads the teams in tackles. Also expect a lot of blitzing. Other than Danny Coales and Dyrell Roberts, the Hokies receive corp. has been rather ordinary. That said Coales and Roberts haven't been exceptional either. The trouble could be in any number of factors including poor coaching, inexperience, etc. The bottom line is that Florida State will not be too worried about them and will go man coverage to attack Taylor. [Keys to a Hokie Victory] Again, the Hokies will need to play assignment football and pick up the blitz. Taylor will need to be able to throw the ball or we're again in for a long afternoon.
Game time: 3:30 EDT
Weather: 74° F - Sunny
TV: ABC regional