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Ugly Defeat Invited Quarterback Derby

Thursday, September 11, 2008 11:41am
By: Accsports Staff

September 11, 2007

BLACKSBURG – When former Virginia Tech quarterback Bryan Randall was a junior in 2003, he was forced to deal with the most frustrating situation of his young football career. He was Tech's starter, but he was a marked man.

Though he started all 13 games that season, he had to beat back the challenges of backup Marcus Vick for the second half of the season. Randall completed 150 of 245 passes (61 percent) that year for 1,996 yards, 15 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He never understood why Tech coach Frank Beamer and his staff questioned his abilities.

"To me, it's kind of like, why am I still having to prove myself?" Randall said in November 2003. "I mean, after you start so many games and you've done so much, I feel like people have a good feel for what you can do. Of course, there are still things to work on. I'm not saying there aren't any mistakes as far as my game.

"But I feel like I've been here for a while now. This is almost my third year. I've been on the field. I've started in bowl games. I don't see it too much that I still have to prove myself. I feel I've showed people and showed the coaches that I'm capable of winning ballgames.

"It's kind of like, ‘What's going on? What have I done so bad?'"

Fast-forward four seasons. Sean Glennon understands Randall's point of view.

There's no graceful way to handle replacing a starting quarterback. It's the most visible position on the field. It's the glamour spot.

Glennon, a junior quarterback, was a confused young man on the night of Sept. 8. He was taken out midway through the second quarter of Tech's 48-7 drubbing at the hands of Louisiana State and replaced with freshman Tyrod Taylor, one of the nation's most highly touted signees in February.

Glennon wondered how he was responsible for the lopsided nature of the game. He hadn't given up 48 points and 598 yards, the most yards surrendered by a Bud Foster-coordinated defense since Nov. 9, 2002, when Syracuse gained 604 in a 50-42 triple-overtime win. Glennon wasn't the one unable to block LSU's ravenous defensive line.

After the game, Glennon said he hadn't talked to Tech quarterbacks coach Mike O'Cain about the situation, and had spoken only briefly with Beamer.

If nothing else, that's the wrong way to handle a QB switch. Taylor may have the brighter future. He might be the sexier pick. But Glennon, who started all 13 games in 2006 and helped lead Tech to a 10-3 record, deserved better. He at least should've been told exactly why he was taken out of the game, or why the redshirt was taken off Taylor and why he was given a shot.

Is this a habit for Tech's coaches? How long did they leave Randall in the dark?

"I think I've earned (the starting job) through being here a while, and I think I've paid my dues," said Glennon, who provided his resume after the LSU game like a guy trying to win the starting job instead of the incumbent. "I started last season. I thought I had a very good offseason. I hope I still am (the starter), but I'm the wrong guy to be asking.

"I don't know if I was in long enough (against LSU) to really gauge whether I could get the offense going or whatever. The coaches felt like Tyrod gave us a better chance at this point. I can't argue with their decision. That's why they get paid."

TAYLOR FITS POROUS LINE BETTER?

By all accounts, Glennon didn't play extraordinarily well in the first two games. He was 24-of-43 passing (55 percent) for 261 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Still, that's not bad enough to be yanked from the middle of possibly the biggest game of Glennon's career without explanation.

There was no arm-around-the-shoulders chat on the bench between Beamer and Glennon. There wasn't even a fiery get-up-in-Glennon's-face berating from any of the coaches. Just nothing, according to Glennon.

Here's what Beamer had to say after the LSU game … and what he should've told Glennon.

"We felt like we needed some change, and Tyrod can run away from some of those guys like he did (against LSU)," Beamer said. "He made some good throws. … I think he gives some athletic ability in our offense that we need. Our offensive line will continue to get better. I think Tyrod helps our offensive line with his ability."

Glennon may not be the prototypical quarterback for a college program with annual top-10 aspirations, but he's a smart kid. He wasn't angry after the LSU game, and he had a pretty good idea of the reasons why Beamer and Co. elected to make the switch. It's just too bad he had to wait until after the game to hear it.

If Tech's line continues to run-block as poorly as it did through two games (107th in the nation in rushing offense), a quarterback controversy involving Glennon and Taylor could last for the rest of the season.

Despite his lack of experience, and typical freshman problems in the huddle (i.e., a little confusion and lack of volume), Taylor might truly be the best man for the job, given the problems facing Tech's offense. This quarterback move was expected to become a reality next season. With his potential for a redshirt burned, Taylor has put himself in position to speed up the process.

"I'm ready to go out and take that challenge to work hard every day and prepare myself to be the best," said Taylor, a man of few words.

Taylor gives something in games Glennon has no prayer of providing: the ability to scramble. Glennon has the leadership and game-readiness advantages by a longshot, but he might see the writing on the wall.

"I'm never going to pin what happened on the guys on the line," Glennon said, "but obviously I'm not going to be the guy that's going to run for 100 yards."