Glennon, Taylor bring unique strengths to Hokies offense
FT. LAUDERDALE -- Virginia Tech has tried this two-quarterback thing before.
In 2003, quarterbacks Marcus Vick and Bryan Randall were each given a quarter in the first half to prove themselves as the best and continue playing in the second half. The coaching staff made it a competition, and instead of worrying about beating their opponents, the Hokies were more concerned about winning the job.
"It just didn't work out," coach Frank Beamer said. "It just wasn't the way to go about it.
"What happened, in the Boston College game really, Bryan went in first, scored a couple of times and was on a roll," Beamer recalled. "Then Marcus came in and didn't do as well, threw an interception. The fans were booing. It just didn't work."
For the past four games, the system Virginia Tech has developed for quarterbacks Sean Glennon (the passer) and Tyrod Taylor (the runner) has worked well enough to win the Atlantic Coast Conference championship, a title that earned the Hokies a spot against Kansas in Thursday's FedEx Orange Bowl.
So far, Virginia Tech's system has worked because both players are willing to go along with it, because they have been given margin for error without fear of being benched and because the coaching staff has agreed to it and ironed out the kinks in the logistics of calling the plays.
Beamer said it takes about two or three extra seconds to figure out which quarterback to use.
"It's not just call a play, its call a play and which quarterback is going to run it," he said. "There's a little bit more involved."
Offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring is in the coaches' box calling down to Billy Hite, associate head coach and running backs coach. Hite has the signalers right beside him. He tells them the play and they signal it to the quarterback.
The wrinkle in the system is switching the quarterbacks. If a change is coming, Stinespring will either say "alert" or "on deck." If another quarterback is going in, there is no need to signal in the play because the quarterback will run it in. Glennon and Taylor switched 20 times during their regular-season win against Virginia.
"It's not confusing, but at the same time you don't know when you're going in," said Taylor, who has accounted for five passing touchdowns and six rushing. "It could be on any play. You've got to be in tune with the game so when you get in there you know what you have to do."
In order to save clock time and get the system off to a smooth start, Stinespring said he scripts about 20 to 25 plays the night before and will adjust as necessary.
"In the very beginning, it's not an easy venture to go into," said Stinespring. "If it was, if it didn't require a little bit of work or anything, I think a lot of people would do it, but we still feel like the benefits outweighed the costs.
"It's gone about as smooth as it could go. This is a trial-and-error thing. You're kind of going through uncharted waters every time you do it. We've changed them in every situation you can be in."
Taylor, a true freshman who had planned to redshirt this season, was first brought in because the Hokies weren't getting the pass protection they needed. He brought more mobility and added the running dimension to the offense.
Taylor started five games until he injured his ankle at Duke, giving Glennon his chance at redemption. Glennon played well against Duke, Boston College and Georgia Tech. By then, Taylor was healthy and the coaching staff had a decision to make.
"I had been playing very well I thought," Glennon said. "I had entertained the idea, 'What are they going to do? Are they going to put me back on the bench? Are they going to put Tyrod back on the bench?'"
At the staff meeting on the Monday following the Georgia Tech game, Beamer looked at quarterbacks coach Mike O'Cain and asked him, "What are we going to do about this quarterback situation?"
"I said, 'Well, I don't think I would ever have said this, but I think we ought to play both of them,'" O'Cain said. "He said, 'I do, too.' The entire offensive staff felt the same way.
"Now what we had to do at that point was decide exactly how we wanted to do it," O'Cain said. "That Monday afternoon in their position meeting, I told them, 'We're going to play both of you. I don't know how we're going to do it, but we'll have a plan.'"
"You may have 10 plays, you may have 20 plays," Taylor said. "You never know."
Nor does the Kansas defense know.
"Each quarterback is going to have his tendencies," said Jayhawks corner Aqib Talib. "It's like game planning for two different offenses."
Which is exactly what the Jayhawks have done.
"It's to the point now that you put a tape in there and you know what the next play is," said Kansas defensive coordinator Bill Young. "You've seen it so many times."
Not until game time, though, do even Glennon and Taylor know what to expect.
Heather Dinich is a college football writer for ESPN.com. Send your questions and comments to Heather at email@example.com.
MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL HEADLINES
- Michigan St. topples Ohio St. to win Big Ten
- Winston stars as No. 1 Noles rough up Duke
- Auburn tops Mizzou in shootout, wins SEC title
- Stanford hammers ASU to win Pac-12 title
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
2007 Bowl Season
• Maisel: What a way to geaux
• Wojciechowski: Miles deserves a wa-hooooo
• Forde: Ohio St. buckles under BCS pressure
• Schlabach: Game analysis
• GameDay: Big Ten weak?
• Forde/Schlabach: BCS analysis
• Forde/Schlabach: Keys to the game
• McShay: BCS breakdown
• Postgame quotes: Jim Tressel
• Postgame quotes: Glenn Dorsey
• Postgame quotes: Les Miles
• LSU celebrates win over Ohio State
BCS Title Game Preview
• Forde/Maisel: 10 reasons Ohio State/LSU will win
• Forde: BCS title game important for more than football to New Orleans
• Maisel: OSU's children of the scorn
• Forde: Destiny's Team tag fits Tigers well
• Wojciechowski: Don't believe the hype
• Forde: Tale of the tape
• Maisel: BCS QBs not stars, but leaders
• Schlabach: 'Ironhead' Heyward's memory alive in son
• Beanie carries the load for Bucks
• Maisel: Healthy Dorsey ready to roll
• Wojciechowski: Ohio State's motivational DVD
• Maisel: Face of the Ohio State
• Wojciechowski: Les is more
• Schlabach: BCS notebook
• Low: Steltz family ties
• Low: Early bowls offer BCS game clues
• Scouts' edge: LSU or Ohio State?
• Forde/Maisel: Breaking down the title game
• Forde/Maisel: Hester, Laurinaitis define teams
• Forde/Schlabach: X-Factors
• Schlabach: Bucks' WRs key
• Players expect electric atmosphere
• GameDay: Which defense will prevail?
• Forde/Maisel: LSU's D-Line vs. Ohio State's O-Line
• Maisel/Schlabach: Title game intangibles
• Forde/Schlabach: Pelini's impeding departure a factor?
• McShay: BCS Championship preview
• Forde: Stewart nails on-the-job interview
• Forde: Scene of the crime
• Forde: Mo' money, mo' problems
• Forde: Picture worth 1,000 words
• Schlabach: USC looks like nation's best team
• Feldman: McKnight's impressive coming-out party
• Schlabach: Illinois' offense as easy as 1-2-3
• Feldman: USC defense starts, finishes up front
• Schlabach: Rose coaches have similar stories
• Feldman: Patience helps Booty weather storm
• Schlabach: Leman's success mirrors Illini's rise
• Feldman: USC still up despite 'down' year
• Schlabach: Third year a charm for Zook, Illini
• Maisel: Seems like old times
• Low: Howard hosts sack party
• Maisel: Sweet smell of success
• Schlabach: Richt takes a walk on the wild side
• Dinich: Jones finds ohana in Hawaii
• Low: Growth spurt helps Georgia come of age
• Nielsen: 'Dread-Heads' Hawaii's unsung stars
• Dinich: Kansas proved it belonged
• Dinich: Kansas time share
• Dinich: Virginia Tech makes two work
Other Bowl Coverage
• Adelson: A final spin in the old Carr
• Dinich: Texas Tech steals a bit of luck
• Low: Liberty Bowl win caps MSU's season
• Low: Croom's breakthrough season
• Low: UCF's Smith running into record books
• Feldman: Motivated Horns stampede Sun Devils
• Maisel: Lone Star State QBs shining on bowls
• Schlabach: Coaching transition game
• Forde: Schnellenberger takes road less traveled
What To Watch
• Pat Forde: Bowl-der Dash
• Feldman's picks: December | January
• Flash Gallery: Chris Low's impact players
• Heather Dinich: Bowling for the best gifts
BCS Selection Sunday
• Pat Forde: The grateful duo
• Ivan Maisel: Tigers, Bucks survive, advance
• Gene Wojciechowski: Theater of the absurd
More Bowl Coverage
• BCS: Rose | Sugar | Fiesta | Orange
• BCS National Championship Game
• Bowl Overview | Bowl Schedule | Bowl Index