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Should Tyrod Taylor be considered for the Heisman?

The scene was particularly rosy in Blacksburg Saturday on the heels of senior quarterback Tyrod Taylor's almost flawless 16-for-17 performance in the final preseason scrimmage of fall camp, with Michael Vick references and superlatives of all kinds thrown around at will.

It was in the backdrop of this 317-yard, three-touchdown showing that Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring was asked about Taylor's Heisman Trophy chances in 2010. More specifically, should it be Taylor instead of dynamic running back Ryan Williams listed on all those preseason watch lists?

“The only thing I know is … when I go to sleep at night as an offensive coordinator, sometimes you can toss and turn, but the one thing that normally puts me to sleep is the re-asssurance that Tyrod Taylor is our quarterback," Stinespring said. "Knowing that and knowing the talent level that he has, when you start talking about the best players in the country, you’ve got to start talking about Tyrod Taylor.”

That Stinespring wouldn't answer the question directly has more to do with the Hokies' offensive plan than anything Taylor has done over the course of his Virginia Tech career. Since Taylor came to campus in 2007, the Hokies have thrown the ball on more than 40 percent of their offensive plays just once, and that was in 2007 when Sean Glennon took the majority of the snaps and future NFLers Josh Morgan and Eddie Royal lined up at wide receiver.

With Williams coming off a record-setting 2009 on the ground and the return of redshirt junior Darren Evans, the thought would be those percentages won't change.

But the consensus on campus is that Taylor has taken the next step in his evolution as a quarterback this offseason. He's listed on the preseason Manning Award watch list, given annually to college football's top signal caller. He was a counselor at the prestigious Elite 11 camp this summer. And defensive coordinator Bud Foster said Taylor's understanding and command of the offense are "the best of any quarterback we've had here in a long, long time."


Stinespring said the biggest difference with Taylor this year isn't confidence in himself; it's confidence in the players around him. As a sophomore in a dual-quarterback system with Glennon, Taylor had a mostly freshmen receiving corps and relied more on his legs than his arm, rushing for 739 yards and tossing just two touchdown passes.

Last season Taylor completed more than 50 percent of his passes just once in the Hokies' first four games. But the offense didn't hit its stride until the final five games of the season -- all wins -- when it averaged close to 440 yards yards per contest. Taylor finished the season with the highest passer efficiency rating in the ACC, 149.4.

"We were kind of just thrown in the fire, not really knowing what to do," junior wide receiver Dyrell Roberts said of previous years. "But now ... we feel a lot of connection with each other. Not only just me and [Taylor], but all the wideouts in general. We go over stuff that he wants to look for and we tell him what to look for and as long as we’re on the same page, everything should click. And when we’re clicking, we shouldn’t be able to be stopped.”

Make no mistake, this is an offense that will continue to revolve around the running game. It's been a staple of the Frank Beamer era, and even as prolific as Taylor was Saturday afternoon, the Hokies' first-team offense still ran the ball more times than it passed.

But judging from the talk out of preseason, the passing game will be a bigger point of emphasis than in the past. Will they throw it enough for Taylor to become more of a household name nationally? That's up for debate. For now, the QB just seems happy to be a part of what should be a prolific offense this year.

"Me and the receivers are on the same page, and we were on the same page last year, but we’re just clicking better this year because of the plays we made last year," he said. "I think I’ve always been pretty confident, but I guess I’m just an older guy and been around here longer so I know what it takes to go out there and win every game."

By Mark Giannotto  |  August 30, 2010; 11:34 AM ET
 
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Comments

Tyrod is awesome, but it's a bit early to be talking about the Heisman Trophy.

VA Tech needs to be focused on Boise State. Right now they are 0-0.

Posted by: postfan1 | August 30, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Forget Heisman talk, I am little worried that he carved our defense for 317-yard, three-touchdown.

Posted by: tischmid | August 30, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

If you look at the list of Heisman contenders, you have to include Taylor, period. The last 4 games of last year, I felt like I was witnessing something happening. It finally clicked and got easy for him. He's the real deal. Some of the passes he was throwing looked easy for him, yet they were put in tight spaces, and he kept doing it consistently. That's when I knew...

Posted by: bharn | August 31, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Don't get carried away, Taylor is nowhere near being an elite QB. It was a scrimmage against the 2nd team D. Yes, he's efficient and a good game manager, but I'm more worried about the depth on D.

Posted by: SPEHokie | August 31, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

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