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O'Cain Says Taylor Is Progressing

Before the season, Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor talked about wanting to improve his pocket presence. And early this season, he seemed hesitant to run as he tried to make plays with his arm.

On Monday, Mike O’Cain, the Hokies' quarterbacks coach, said Taylor was not hesitant to run and that it had nothing to do with him being coached not to do so. Rather, O’Cain said, Taylor has decided to run when he has needed to. In the past, he might have grown impatient and run before he needed to.

“He’s seeing things and pulling the trigger,” O’Cain said. “Now he’s running when he needs to.”

O’Cain added, “I haven’t coached him any different.”

In Saturday’s win 34-26 win over Duke, Taylor had a career-high 327 passing yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, completing 17 of 22 passes. With his impressive numbers against the Blue Devils, Taylor rose to 27th nationally in passing efficiency (150.85).

Yet Taylor has only completed 54.26 percent of his throws and has lacked polish as a passer. The Hokies’ passing offense ranks 103rd nationally, averaging 173.80 yards per game.

But there were promising signs Saturday, even though it was against unranked Duke, which has struggled with pass defense.

O’Cain credited some of Taylor’s success to the chemistry he has developed with the Hokies’ wide receivers. In the offseason, Taylor worked regularly with the wideouts.

“It just gives you much more confidence in throwing the ball; they can go get it,” O’Cain said, adding: “You’re seeing this, since spring, there beginning to be more confidence. When we got back together in August, there was more confidence.”

An example of that Saturday would be Taylor’s 28-yard touchdown pass to Jarrett Boykin. Taylor lofted a pass toward the back of the end zone and the 6-foot-2 Boykin out-jumped 5-9 cornerback Leon Wright for the touchdown. Boykin, whose hands are so large he wears XXXL gloves, wrestled the ball away from Wright on his way to the turf.

Asked if he was worried about connecting with Boykin, Taylor said: “If you’ve ever seen Jarrett’s hands, you wouldn’t be worried. I knew he was going to come up with it when they rolled over.”

One of the other developments that has helped Taylor is the shift in his launching point. Coaches have tied to stay away from using Taylor on straight drop-backs, rolling him out of the pocket. That has prevented defensive linemen and linebackers from setting a target when the rush the passer, and has opened Taylor’s line of vision.

“I think it clears some things up for him,” O’Cain said. The defensive players “can’t just line up and punt their hand on the ground and run to a point.”

Speaking about the congestion at the line of scrimmage, O’Cain said, “Plus, you get him outside that crap, you clear things up.”

While Taylor made some nice throws on Saturday, the Hokies still have strides to make in a passing offense that has seemed grounded. While Virginia Tech showed it can throw the ball against Duke, in the previous four games the Hokies’ offense was a one-dimensional attack with its rushing offense.

“I think what he’s doing is going to improve every day,” O’Cain said. “Every throw is different, so it’s a continual learning process. We don’t have the deep ball to a science yet, but it’s improving.”

By Mark Viera  |  October 6, 2009; 11:15 AM ET
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Uh, gee, maybe the VT coaches should have thought about rolling Tyrod out against Alabama, eh? Everyone else in the room could see it, why couldn't they? Roll him out, give him some room to work with, and he'll see the field better.

Posted by: bharn | October 6, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

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