VT's quarterback a mystery, not necessarily a concern

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Maryland linebacker Moise Fokou doesn't know them personally, but he rattles off the names of Virginia Tech's playmakers like they're on a first-name basis: Macho, Tyrod, Glennon, Holt.

"We like to familiarize ourselves with our opponents," Fokou said.

He just doesn't know who their starting quarterback will be.

It's remained a mystery to just about everyone except the Hokies this week, as starters Tyrod Taylor and Sean Glennon both suffered left ankle sprains during the Florida State game and spent most of their bye week wearing protective boots. They practiced in limited capacity this week, but Cory Holt, the Hokies' third-string quarterback-turned-receiver-turned quarterback again, was preparing as if he was the starter. They all bring a different dimension to the game, but neither team seems overly concerned about it, despite the weighty implications of the game in the conference race.

Virginia Tech, as expected, has done nothing but express confidence in Holt, a fifth-year senior who played admirably in a tough situation at Florida State. And the Terps have zeroed in on the Hokies' running game, regardless of who starts at quarterback.

"They're a running football team," said senior defensive tackle Jeremy Navarre. "Whoever they put back there, whoever starts, they're going to stick with what they do best and they're going to run the ball. They've got a big offensive line. All year long their main thing has been to run the ball. If you don't stop this team from running the ball, they're going to do it all game long."

Unless, of course, Glennon is playing quarterback. He's the one who can throw it. (Although tight end Greg Boone, who was moved to backup behind Holt when the starters went down, claims he'll throw it 80 yards every time if he gets in there. Seriously). Taylor is the one who brings a different dimension with his feet. He has had seven running plays of 20 yards or more this season and is the team's second leading rusher.

"I think Holt is kind of a blend between both of them," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "He's very mobile. I don't think he's as fast as Taylor, but I think he can do all the things that Taylor does. He's a big, tall, strong guy just like Glennon. He's in between. They can go either way with him. I thought he did a tremendous job last week having not gotten a lot of reps. He ran the option, he threw the ball ... they must have a lot of confidence in him he can do the things they ask him to do with very little reps."

They do.

Offensive guard Nick Marshman came in with Holt in 2004 and noted Holt's leadership skills on the sideline.

"He knows the quarterback position," Marshman said. "He's talked to the younger quarterbacks, he talks to the younger receivers. He knows the system. When he came in at Florida State, he was cool, calm and collected like he's done it before, and he hadn't played quarterback in six weeks. I have full faith in him and the whole team and the coaching staff does, too."

Their confidence, unlike Maryland's defense, has been unwavering.

The Terps' defense has been a reflection of its up-and-down performances, having been on both ends of a shutout. The Terps lost 31-0 to Virginia, and then in their next game, blanked Wake Forest 26-0. It was the first time Maryland had held a ranked opponent scoreless since Sept. 24, 1955, when it beat No. 1 UCLA 7-0.

"I think the bend-but-don't-break mentality has been at Maryland for a very long time and I don't think anything is going to change with that," Fokou said. "But as long as we go out and continue to play hard and play assignment football, we can be a pretty good football team on offense or defense. We proved that in our shutout of Wake Forest a couple of weeks ago."

Maryland defensive coordinator Chris Cosh has warned his players that Holt is a quarterback, and one who has been in the system long enough to know it.

"It's not like they're taking a guy that's been a tackle now and making him quarterback," Cosh said. "He knows how to play. He's been a part of the offense. He's been waiting his turn and chomping at the bit. He's going to be eager to get out there and show what he can do."

Marshman said the offensive line has "tips and reminders" every week, and the first one is always the same: protect the quarterback.

"Whoever is at quarterback, it doesn't matter," Marshman said. "You've gotta protect him, you have to give him time to throw, you've gotta give him time to operate. We have confidence in Cory if that's the case, and if Sean or Tyrod is back, we've played with them before, so we just have to protect whoever is back there."

It's one name Fokou won't know until game time.