The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday January 27th

Taylor chases ghosts of mobile QBs past

During Virginia Tech's season-opening loss at the hands of East Carolina quarterback Tyrod Taylor could do nothing but watch.

Hokie coach Frank Beamer had announced his intentions of redshirting Taylor in the preseason and handed the reins to senior Sean Glennon.

But after a poor first performance from Glennon the red shirt is now off and Taylor is the No. 1 signal-caller for the Hokies.

And with two games under his belt this season — one in which he took every snap — Taylor is looking to hit his stride Saturday against North Carolina.

The focus of UNC's secondary is on limiting the big play so Taylor who is averaging just 3.9 yards per pass attempt could find several difficulties in Kenan Stadium.

As is evident by the miniscule average Taylor has been essentially a short-yardage passer with his only real threats of putting up big numbers this season being his elusiveness and 4.55-second 40-yard-dash time.

In Taylor's only start of the season a 20-17 win against Georgia Tech on Sep. 13 the 6-foot-1 sophomore managed only 48 passing yards on 14 attempts with a long completion of 10 yards.

But with a strong arm capable of hurling the ball 60-plus yards the potential big play through the air is always there with Taylor in the backfield.

Comparisons of Taylor to former Hokie quarterback Michael Vick however are not without good reason. From their neighboring home towns in Virginia to their uncanny ability to make something out of less than nothing the two dual-threat quarterbacks seem to be the perfect fit for Beamer's system.

Beamer seems to have his best teams on the field when his quarterback is more than just a pocket passer. With Taylor in the game the Hokie offense becomes much more diverse than with Glennon.

Quarterback draws and speed options diversify what can become a very one-dimensional Hokie offense with Glennon in the game.

But the comparisons to Vick are also not without precedent. Ever since Vick's departure for the NFL after the 2000 season Hokie Nation has been waiting for the Second Coming.

First there was Bryan Randall" then Michael's brother Marcus Vick and then Ike Whitaker. And for the past two seasons there has been Tyrod Taylor.

If the next quarterback in the line of ""next Vicks"" is going to truly earn that title" his arm must take some of the load off of his legs.

With the loss of his top four targets from 2007 Taylor has had an uphill battle this season to get back to form.  But he does have the raw ability and talent to get there.

At Hampton High School Taylor registered more than 5000 passing yards with 44 touchdowns in three seasons.

So far this season however stretching the field with deep balls hasn't been a part of Taylor's repertoire. He just hasn't quite gotten in sync with his new receiving corps.

Look for the Tar Heels' secondary to attempt to keep the receivers in front of them and limit yards after catch to prevent the big play through the air.

Against North Carolina in 2007 Taylor took the majority of the snaps in the Hokies' one-touchdown victory in Blacksburg.

Taylor accounted for just 77 total yards in the narrow Hokies win but it was his five-yard touchdown scamper that gave Virginia Tech an early 7-0 lead and eventually proved to be the difference in the game.

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