Hokies Hit The Road
Even though Frank Beamer's two-quarterback plan lifted Virginia Tech to the ACC championship last year, the Hokies coach has decided not to stick with that successful formula in 2008.
Fifth-year senior Sean Glennon will start the season knowing the quarterback job is his as the No. 17 Hokies face East Carolina at Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium on Saturday.
Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Florida –35.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 72% of bets for this game have been placed on Florida –35.5 (View College Football bet percentages).
Glennon also began last season as Virginia Tech's starter, but he struggled early and lost the job to then-freshman Tyrod Taylor. After Taylor injured his ankle, however, Glennon stepped back in and reclaimed the starting spot.
Despite sharing snaps with the more mobile Taylor at times, Glennon completed 61.7 percent of his passes and threw 11 touchdowns and just three interceptions in his final eight games. He was named MVP of the ACC title game, when he threw three touchdowns in Virginia Tech's 30-16 win over Boston College.
Glennon carried his strong play over to the preseason, earning the job for himself this year. Beamer announced Tuesday that Taylor would redshirt while Glennon will start in his final college season.
"Obviously it was what I was hoping for," Glennon said. "That was my goal this whole offseason. I wanted to be the guy. ... It's what I've been working for, and it all worked out."
"We talked about the move all weekend," Beamer added. "I wanted this to be settled and that is the way I like things to be. Now we know what direction we will be going in this season."
Settling the quarterback situation puts to rest a big issue for the Hokies as they aim for their third ACC title in five seasons in the league. Despite losing 24-21 in the Orange Bowl to Kansas, Virginia Tech went 11-3 last year and has won at least 10 regular season games for four straight years - a feat equaled only by Southern California.
Still, plenty of uncertainty surrounds this year's Hokies. The team has to fill the hole created by departed running back Branden Ore, with junior Kenny Lewis and redshirt freshman Darren Evans figuring to receive carries. There are also questions about who will catch Glennon's passes, with the team's top four receivers from last year having graduated.
"They're very inexperienced at their skill positions, their wide receivers and running backs," said East Carolina coach Skip Holtz, who agreed to a new six-year contract Tuesday. "Most of the guys are juniors and seniors who have played some football in the past and who have been in the program for a long time."
Another problem may be replacing the eight defensive players from the 2007 team that were drafted or signed by NFL teams. Senior Orion Martin is the only Hokies defensive lineman who has started a college game.
Martin, his linebacker brother Cam, safety Kam Chancellor and cornerback Victor Harris will try to anchor the young unit, which was second in the nation in scoring defense last year at 15.5 points allowed per game.
"They lost a lot of talent," Holtz said. "But what concerned me most was when (Virginia Tech defensive coordinator) Bud Foster said he thinks this defense will be better than they were a year ago. He thinks they are quicker and more athletic."
Holtz's team had enough trouble in last year's season opener against Virginia Tech, managing only 12 first downs in a 17-7 loss in Blacksburg on Sept. 1. Glennon went 22-for-33 for 245 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
That was the Hokies' sixth consecutive victory in the series, dating to 1993. The teams will continue to play each year through 2015 as part of a nine-game agreement.
East Carolina went 8-5 last year, struggling defensively at times in high-scoring Conference USA but also averaging more than 30 points per game.
The Pirates enter 2008 with a quarterback conundrum of their own, as Patrick Pinkney and Rob Kass return after each throwing for more than 1,000 yards last season. Pinkney, who also rushed for 306 yards, will start Saturday.
"At this point, I don't know if you'll see two quarterbacks," Holtz said. "It is nice to have two quarterbacks with the experience that we have."
East Carolina also has to go about replacing running back Chris Johnson, selected in the first round of the NFL draft by Tennessee after rushing for 1,423 yards and 17 touchdowns last year. The task got tougher when the Pirates lost senior and presumptive starter Dominique Lindsay for the year to a knee injury.
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