Odds ’n ends
One question heading into the season was whether Hokies quarterback Tyrod Taylor would develop as a passer. With three regular season games remaining, it is safe to answer that question: Yes, Taylor has grown as a passer.
“He’s played very comfortably,” said Mike O’Cain, the Hokies’ quarterbacks coach. “The thing that I’ve been most pleased with is he’s taken what the defense has given him. He hasn’t forced any balls. He hasn’t tried to take something that wasn’t there. He’s just played very smart.”
Taylor ranks 32nd nationally in passing efficiency (141.3), although he has not thrown the ball as frequently as some other quarterbacks. He has thrown nine touchdowns to only three interceptions. He has completed 56.1 percent of his passes for 1,452 yards.
Those numbers are a marked improvement over last season, when he threw two touchdowns and seven interceptions. He completed 57.2 percent of his passes for 1,036 yards.
“He had to learn to be a college quarterback, and it has taken time, but the guys around him respect him for who he is and his personality,” O’Cain said. “He loves to practice. He has fun off the field. So the guys like him from that standpoint, but then they also have tremendous respect for him because of what he can do athletically. The combination of those two, to me, makes you a natural leader.”
Taylor has been entrusted with more freedom at the line of scrimmage to call an audible. The coaches have gained confidence in his ability to read the defense and to react accordingly.
While Taylor has grown more comfortable as a quarterback, he has also held onto the ball too long at times. He took sacks against North Carolina and Nebraska, for example, while searching for targets downfield. In last Thursday’s 16-3 win over East Carolina, Taylor was hurried six times and sacked once. He sometimes appeared unsettled as the Pirates brought a rush.
“It’s trying not to make a bad throw; it’s trying to make something happen,” O’Cain said of why Taylor took those sacks. “It’s that fine line. And it’s a give and take. And a third-down sack is not terrible. You’re punting the ball anyway, unless he can pull it down and get a first down.”
Williams breaks broken tackles record
Running back Ryan Williams put on a display in last Thursday’s 16-3 win over East Carolina. But after reviewing the tape, it might have looked even better.
Williams broke 16 tackles against the Pirates. On a 46-yard run in the second quarter, Williams broke four tackles, spinning off two defenders at the line of scrimmage and then two more in the second level.
In his 29 years as the Hokies’ running backs coach, Billy Hite said he has never had a rusher break 16 tackles. Hite, who coached standouts such as Kevin Jones and Lee Suggs, estimated the previous high for broken tackles was 12 or 13.
Asked if he knew he had broken that many tackles, Williams said: “It really didn’t feel like it. But it was cool that I broke that many.”
Hokies’ underwear model?
On Monday, linebacker Cody Grimm modeled the uniforms the Hokies will wear Saturday against Maryland. If he does not make it in the NFL, he might have a shot at another career.
“I’ve been getting calls from Jockey, Haynes, stuff like that,” said Grimm, responding in kind to a tongue-in-cheek question. “I guess they want me to be an underwear model, but I guess I’ll have to wait until after the season to get into that.”
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