Hokies in trouble, but Tyrod can save day

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For just a moment, forget the quarterback melodrama. Disregard the redshirt, the reversal and the rotation. Remove yourself from the mob mentality of message boards, talk radio and chain e-mail.

Instead, chew on this little nugget: Virginia Tech could have lost to Furman on Saturday.

Think not? Believe the Hokies' 24-7 victory over the Division I-AA Paladins was as inevitable as Southern California's Week 1 housing of Virginia?

Think again. It's true, and it's a searing indictment of a quality college football program.

Recruiting failures, critical injuries and curious coaching have left the defending ACC champions lacking in every phase.

Not to say the 2008 season is doomed after only two games. Far from it. The Hokies can play better, coach smarter and get healthy.

But with impending contests against Georgia Tech, at North Carolina and at Nebraska, those upgrades need to happen in a hurry.

"We as a football team know we have to get better," coach Frank Beamer said. "There's no doubt about it."

Beamer was as glum as I've ever seen him after a victory. His team is 1-1 entering its conference opener, doesn't pass-protect a lick and has one measly sack for 3 yards on the season.

Beamer gets it. He knows that if an ineligible man downfield hadn't nullified a 57-yard Furman pass in the second quarter, the Paladins might have seized a 7-0 lead. He realizes that the Hokies might have become more skittish, the fans more unruly, the quarterback quandary more puzzling.

Ah, the quarterbacks. We must discuss, yes?

"I'm not ready to talk about our two-quarterback system now," Beamer said.

Allow us.

No matter how awkward, Beamer's flip-flop on redshirting sophomore Tyrod Taylor was spot-on. Taylor rushed for a game-high 112 yards Saturday, and without that spark, Tech might never have dented a swarming defense led by linebacker Brandon Williams.

Granted, Taylor foolishly took a 9-yard, third-down sack that knocked the Hokies out of field-goal range. And no doubt, rotating quarterbacks disrupts an offense's rhythm.

But given their personnel shortcomings, especially on the offensive line, Tech coaches can not afford to redshirt a playmaker who Saturday produced runs of 15, 15, 24 and 50 yards.

Would said playmaker have made a difference in the Hokies' season-opening loss to East Carolina? We'll never know.

We do know that the 50-yard scamper was Taylor at his improvisational best. Operating from the shotgun on third-and-10 from his 36 early in the third quarter, he scrambled right to avoid an all-out blitz, cut back left at Furman's 40 and sprinted to the 14 before being forced out-of-bounds.

Three plays later, the Hokies scored the game's first touchdown to start a decisive 21-points-in-2:29 stretch.

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