CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -Sean Glennon ranks seventh in Virginia Tech history with more than 4,000 yards passing. He had a streak of 149 passes without an interception last season and was MVP of the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.
Yet coach Frank Beamer's decision to start Glennon this season and redshirt Tyrod Taylor set off a flurry of fan unrest, putting the spotlight squarely on the fifth-year senior as he leads the 17th-ranked Hokies into Saturday's opener against East Carolina.
``He's solid, he's smart, he's experienced,'' Beamer said. ``He's made some great plays for Virginia Tech.''
Glennon has made bad plays, too. He struggled in a bowl game loss to end the 2006 season, then lost his starting job in the second game last year after going 2-for-10 with an interception in a 48-7 loss to LSU.
Taylor, a true freshman, took over and dazzled with his speed for the next five games until he injured his ankle. Glennon replaced him and the two later split duties. But it was Glennon who threw for three touchdown passes in the win over Boston College that clinched a spot in the Orange Bowl.
After Glennon and Taylor competed in the preseason, Beamer chose Glennon to lead an offense that replaced the top four receivers and starting running back from last season.
``I felt like I had played well enough in camp,'' Glennon said. ``This could be my last year of football. I'm not going to waste it.''
Glennon's first test comes against the Pirates, who last year visited Blacksburg in the Hokies' first home game since the campus shootings that killed 33.
East Carolina gave the Hokies a scare before succumbing 17-7. It was a sign of things to come, as the improving Pirates finished 8-5 and upset Boise State in the Hawaii Bowl.
Saturday's matchup, officially a home game for East Carolina even though it'll be played 250 miles from campus at Bank of America Stadium, is part of an ambitious schedule for the Pirates. East Carolina hosts No. 8 West Virginia next week.
``It brings a focus to your players,'' said coach Skip Holtz, who agreed to a new six-year contract this week. ``They understand where they need to be.''
East Carolina had its own quarterback competition in the preseason, with Holtz deciding on Patrick Pinckney over Rob Kass after they split snaps last year.
``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.''
The problem is neither QB will be able to give the ball to Chris Johnson. The first-round pick by Tennessee scored 17 touchdowns last season and set an NCAA bowl record with 408 all-purpose yards against Boise State. Holtz has looked at six backs in the preseason, with senior Brandon Simmons expected to start.
The Pirates' biggest problem last season was defense, giving up 400 yards a game. That could give Glennon a chance to get off to a quick start - if he can quickly identify Virginia Tech's new playmakers.
Kenny Lewis Jr. is expected to start at running back after the departure of Branden Ore, who left school after off-field problems. A whole crew of new receivers, which could include true freshman Dyrell Roberts starting, will have to learn quickly.
With the uncertainty, some felt Taylor, a good scrambler, would be a better pick over Glennon, a classic drop-back passer. But it's clear Glennon has the confidence of his teammates.
``It's easy to pick favorites,'' Lewis said. ``A lot of people look from the outside but being there with Sean everyday he means a lot to this football team and he should mean a lot to the fans.''
If the offense falters, Virginia Tech can lean on its once-again robust defense and special teams. The Hokies were second in the nation in scoring defense last year at 15.5 points a game, but lost eight key players. And cornerback Victor ``Macho'' Harris may not play because of a foot injury.
East Carolina, which averaged more than 30 points per game in 2007, will challenge longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster's replacements.
That could put extra pressure on Glennon. And with about half of the 73,000 fans Saturday expected to be dressed in maroon and orange, Virginia Tech fans will be watching closely.
``That just tells you how much heart Sean has,'' Lewis said. ``When the people hate him and everybody turns their back on him he's still fighting.''

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