Hokies' Tyrod Taylor shows progress in loss

LANDOVER, Md. -- Following a botched two-point conversion attempt in the third quarter of Monday night’s game against Boise State, Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor grabbed his leg in pain from a hard hit -- a moment that likely froze time for most Hokies fans.

“Oh I’m good,” he said after the game. “That’s what I live for.”

In the Hokies’ 33-30 loss to Boise State, he didn’t have much of a choice.

Despite the return of two 1,000-yard rushers to Virginia Tech’s backfield, Boise State loaded the box and was able to contain the Hokies’ running game, making Taylor’s performance even more critical. He responded under pressure and was a main reason Virginia Tech had a chance to win despite trailing 17-0 in the first quarter.

It wasn’t a flawless performance -- his incomplete pass on third down in the fourth quarter gave the Broncos the time they needed to win -- but his effort on Monday night was proof he has made strides towards becoming a better passer and in turn a more complete player. He completed 15 of 22 passes for 186 yards, and was the team’s leading rusher with 73 yards despite being sacked three times.

Part of the problem, though, was that he was the Hokies’ leading rusher.

“It helped a lot,” said running back Ryan Williams, who finished with 44 yards and two touchdowns. “With them being as physical as they were up front, there were a lot of times I got the ball and had a defender right in my face. They did an excellent job. It was put on Tyrod’s shoulders to do something for this game.”

Taylor was in sync with receiver Jarrett Boykin, who finished with six catches for 102 yards and a touchdown. Taylor’s 28-yard pass to Boykin down the sideline on fourth-and-five with under three minutes remaining in the third quarter gave Virginia Tech a precarious 27-26 edge -- the Hokies’ first lead of the game.

Taylor said the Hokies’ receivers had an advantage over Boise State’s defensive backs and proved it.

“Last year allowed us to go into this game confident and know we can go out there and complete passes against people,” he said. “As far as the passing game we went out there and made some good plays in the passing game and were able to take advantage of their defensive backs.”

It’s his ability to scramble, though, that has gotten Virginia Tech out of several jams during his career. There was a point in the game when he was nearly sacked, had a hand in the dirt, and somehow managed to turn it into an 11-yard scramble.

“I think my legs are good enough to get out of most pressure, but it was a little bit frustrating, but that’s the game,” he said. “You have to move in the pocket sometime.”

His ability to run has never been in question. It’s the passing game that has been under scrutiny.

At ACC media days in July, Taylor told the media he aspired to complete 70 percent of his passes this year -- a goal some quietly scoffed at, considering Taylor had only completed 56 percent of his passes in the previous three seasons.

Against Boise State he completed 68 percent. Usually, that’s good enough to win.

“I believe we beat ourselves,” Taylor said. “It wasn’t anything they did to beat us. I strongly believe that.”