Tech’s two-headed monster
Story by Chris Graham
Al Groh was getting ready for what turned out to be a nailbiter with Connecticut when he saw something on the TV that worried him about another game that his Virginia team had on the schedule.
“We had a later game the day that Virginia Tech was playing Duke – and when Tyrod (Taylor) got hurt, and Sean (Glennon) went into the game, I thought to myself, This is going to be trouble,” Groh said after Virginia Tech’s two-quarterback monster put up 33 points on his defense in a win last weekend in Charlottesville that sent the Hokies to the ACC Championship Game.
Heading into that Oct. 13 weekend, Glennon, a redshirt junior, had lost his starting job to Taylor, a true freshman who came to Blacksburg with the hype and aplomb that once surrounded another mobile Tech quarterback from the Tidewater area.
Despite the aplomb, though, Groh, for one, felt that the Hokies offense needed at least a dose of the strong-armed Glennon to allow the wide-receiver foursome of Eddie Royal, Justin Harper, Josh Morgan and Josh Hyman to do what it can do to opposing defenses.
“Because having a high respect for the firepower of those four wide receivers, I just thought, This is going to open it up for those guys, and put them back in the game. Which, over the course of the past six or seven weeks, that’s been the case,” Groh said.
“Some six or seven weeks ago when we saw that, we had some trepidation about what that might be – and I think everybody who’s played them since then has experienced that,” Groh said.
Equal doses of Glennon (13-of-19, 260 yards, one passing touchdown) and Taylor (two rushing touchdowns) did the Cavs in on Saturday – on the heels of strong offensive performances against Florida State (in a 40-21 win) and Miami (in a 44-14 win) in games that saw offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring work out the kinks of a two-quarterback system that is beginning to look a bit on the revolutionary side.
“I don’t think Bryan Stinespring is getting enough credit for how he’s using these quarterbacks. I think he’s using them as well as you possibly could at this point,” TechSideline.com football writer Chris Coleman told “The SportsDominion Show” this week.
“They’re keeping defenses honest, because they are using Taylor to throw the ball some. Against UVa., he threw that intermediate out route a few times during the game, and completed it. That’s keeping defenses honest, because they know he can throw the ball. Obviously he threw the ball well on Florida State. And I think they had a couple of designed runs for Sean Glennon against Miami – so they’re not afraid to use Sean Glennon in the running game. They’re keeping the defense on their heels. They never know what to expect,” Coleman said.
Opposing coaches don’t seem to know what to expect, either. It had seemed at first that the model for Stinespring was going to be what Florida did last year when it inserted Tim Tebow into the quarterback mix a few times a game in the place of starter Chris Leake – but it’s clear after Saturday, when Stinespring made 20-plus lineup changes at quarterback, that there really is no model for what is being done here.
“This is our baby,” Stinespring said after the Virginia game. “It’s what our team is able to do, how they elect to approach it – and I’m proud of the way they approach this thing. It’s certainly easier to do that when you know you have the complete understanding of the players that are involved. That’s what makes it work.”
Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer deflects credit for the innovation to Stinespring and his assistants.
“I think there’ve been some good decisions made in that offensive room,” Beamer said of the QB rotation.
“At the time (that Taylor was named the starting quarterback earlier this season), where our football team and where our blocking schemes were, we needed a mobile quarterback,” Beamer said. “I think Tyrod had the personality to do it. I don’t think there’s very many true freshmen that can go right in and play and be as good as he’s been. And then he goes out in the Duke game while he’s playing great – I mean, he’s playing well. And here comes Sean – and he’s been fantastic down the stretch here.
“Today you look at them, and each of them has some big, big plays. So I think our offensive coaching staff has done a pretty good job of not only saying we’re going to do it, but getting it done in an efficient manner,” Beamer said.
We were able to catch up with Glennon after the UVa. game to get his thoughts on how the new system is working. That the word confidence came up in the course of the conversation was not surprising.
“I think we’re getting more confident and more and more are playing to our abilities every game. I think our confidence right now is at an all-time high,” Glennon said.
“These last few games, we’ve moved the ball pretty effectively and put up points on people – and really the only time we’ve not been able to do that is when we’ve stopped ourselves,” Glennon said.
Chris Graham is the executive editor of The SportsDominion.