With the Orange Bowl just one week away, we’ll provide you profiles of some of Virginia Tech’s best players on both sides of the ball. We start the Hokie Profile series with VaTech’s most important player: quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
Taylor–a senior from Hampton, Virginia–bounced back from perhaps the Hokies’ most disappointing two-game start in years to lead the team to an 11-0 finish and take home ACC Player of the Year honors (in fact, the voting wasn’t even close). Taylor’s 2,521 passing yards, 61% completion percentage, 23 touchdowns, and 159.04 passer rating are all career highs, and Taylor’s 4 interceptions in 284 passing attempts this season makes him significantly less interception-prone than Andrew Luck. Taylor throws a pick every 71 attempts, Luck does so every 50.
Taylor has also proven to be one of Virginia Tech’s leading rushing options. With 637 yards on the ground, Taylor trails only junior running back Darren Evans for the team lead in yards on the ground. But as the season has progressed, Taylor has seen his impact on the Hokies running game decrease significantly. His most effective period of rushing came in the first half of the season, when he lit up North Carolina State and Central Michigan with 120+ yard days running the ball. And, although less statistically impressive than those two games, his ability to tuck and scramble in the season opener against Boise State helped keep Virginia Tech in the ballgame until the closing minutes. That contribution has diminished substantially, and Taylor has given the Hokies just 53 yards rushing in the last 4 games.
Stanford will also have the ability to get to Taylor in the backfield before he is ready to throw. Even with his speed and scrambling ability, opposing defenses have sacked Taylor 26 times thus far in 2010, including 5 sacks in a pivotal November 20th match-up with ACC rival Miami. Even NC State, against whom Taylor rushed for 121 yards and threw for 3 touchdowns, sacked him 4 times. With the proper gameplan and an aggressive pass rush, the Stanford front seven should be able to sack Taylor three or more times in the Orange Bowl.
Taylor has aspirations to play professional football after playing his final game for the Hokies against Stanford, and it looks like an NFL team will pick him up. The general consensus among draft gurus places Taylor as a late-round (rounds 5-7) pick, due to his height and need to receive quite a bit of coaching before playing at the pro level. He looks like he could be a good NFL back-up and possible option to run the Wildcat or similar mobile quarterback formations.
Fun Fact: Taylor is an apparel, housing and resource management major at Virginia Tech.
Stay tuned for more Hokie Profiles and our customary game preview, which will appear over the weekend.