The proof, Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer believes, is in the winning. While eight ACC quarterbacks threw for more touchdowns last season than Tyrod Taylor (and six passed for more yards), none has more career victories. Taylor's 23 wins rank him third in the nation among active quarterbacks, behind only TCU's Andy Dalton (29) and Boise State's Kellen Moore (26). "There are a lot of great quarterbacks in the ACC and a lot of great quarterbacks in the country," Beamer says, "but I think we've got one that's right there among the best."
The Hokies as a team are also among the best—with an outside shot at the national championship—and a large reason is the 6'1", 217-pound Taylor. Since arriving in Blacksburg from Hampton (Va.) High in 2007 as the nation's top-rated dual-threat quarterback, Taylor has grown from a risk-taking freshman to a steady veteran who has learned to harness his next-level athleticism.
No play better illustrates Taylor's singular talents than his game-winning pass in the third game of last season, against Nebraska, during which he danced around the backfield and eluded defenders for nearly 10 seconds before throwing an 11-yard touchdown in the final minute. "[That] was a moment for the offense and for me," Taylor says. "It just put a light in the offense." After that 16--15 win the Hokies went on to score 31, 34 and 48 points in their next three wins.
Though Taylor set career highs in passing yards (2,311) and total touchdowns (18) in 2009, Beamer will not be opening up the offense for him. Last year Virginia Tech threw the ball only 249 times (out of 822 plays); just four other Division I-A teams (Navy, Air Force, Army and Georgia Tech) threw less. And this season the Hokies boast one of the nation's most formidable running back committees in junior Darren Evans (1,265 yards and 11 TDs in '08, but sat out last year with a knee injury) and sophomore Ryan Williams (1,655 yards, 21 TDs in '09). "We're not a team that's going to throw tons of touchdowns, so don't measure [Taylor] on the amount of touchdown passes he throws," says quarterbacks coach Mike O'Cain.
No, as Coach Beamer will tell anyone, the only number that people should use to measure Taylor resides in the wins column.
COACH Frank Beamer (24th year)
2009 RECORD 10--3 (6--2 in ACC)
FINAL AP RANK 10
RETURNING STARTERS 10
Offense 7, Defense 3
6 Boise State (in Landover, Md.)
11 James Madison
18 East Carolina
25 at Boston College
2 at N.C. State
9 Central Michigan
16 Wake Forest
4 Georgia Tech
13 at North Carolina
20 at Miami (Fla.)
One of the ACC's top cover corners, Carmichael had a team-high six interceptions in '09.
The 6-foot, 223-pound bruiser is back after missing all of last season with a torn left ACL.
The lightning to Evans's thunder, Williams was the first freshman to lead the conference in rushing and scoring.
DAVID BERGMAN (TAYLOR)
Just two active QBs have more wins than Taylor, who is coming off a year in which he set career highs in passing yards and TDs.
LEE COLEMAN/ICON SMI