Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich
BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Every Tuesday, Virginia Tech goes through a drill called “deep balls,” and it’s exactly what it sounds like – quarterback Tyrod Taylor practices throwing the ball deep. And at least twice a week, he practices scrambling drills, trying to establish some organized chaos.
If practice doesn’t make perfect, it sure goes a long way in winning football games.
Taylor’s 81-yard pass to Danny Coale with about a minute remaining set up the game-winning touchdown pass to lead the Hokies to a 16-15 come-from-behind win over Nebraska. It was the longest pass completion since Bryan Randall threw a pair of 87-yard receptions against Syracuse in 2002.
And then came the scramble. Taylor took the shotgun snap and scrambled for just over nine seconds -- nine seconds -- before releasing the ball for an 11-yard game-winning touchdown to Dyrell Roberts.
“He fired that one,” Roberts said. “He put something on that one. That’s one of the fastest balls Tyrod ever threw to me.”
After almost four quarters of nearly no offense, Virginia Tech put two game-changing plays together that will keep the Hokies among the nation’s top teams. After losing to Alabama in their season opener, Virginia Tech’s national title chances took a significant hit, but the Hokies haven’t given up on that goal, and they didn’t give up against Nebraska.
The last time Virginia Tech came from behind to win in the last minute was in 1999 when Shayne Graham kicked a 44-yard field goal as time expired to give the Hokies a 24-22 win at Morgantown, and coach Frank Beamer said this one was definitely comparable.
“It’s right up there,” Beamer said, “I promise you that.”
This team is reminiscent of last year’s scrappy ACC championship team in that it appears to be doing just enough to win and improving every week. After racking up 444 yards on the ground last week against Marshall, the Hokies got away from their strength in the running game against Nebraska and seem to have limited Taylor’s called run plays this season for fear of getting him hurt. His feet, though, can still win them games by keeping plays alive.
The difference on Saturday, though, was that Taylor won that game with both his feet and his arm. Taylor finished with 192 yards and one touchdown on 12 of 27 pass completions.
“There’s always a chance if you’ve got Tyrod,” Beamer said. “… The bottom line is we don’t win this ball game if we don’t have a quarterback that’s athletic as Tyrod is and can throw the football down the field the way he threw it. … We don’t with without Tyrod.”
It was a significant win to build upon, as Virginia Tech will host Miami on Saturday in a game that will help determine who the best team is in the Coastal Division.
“We’ve played an exhibition season now,” Beamer said. “We’ve had three nonconference games. Now it’s serious time.”
Those within the program know there’s still work to do. Virginia Tech had just 86 yards rushing, and Taylor was sacked four times.
“We had a rough day, but I believe the offense played well down the stretch,” Taylor said. “It builds confidence for me of course and for the offense. We played good down the stretch, completed some passes and protected well. We just have to build off of that, watch film and get better for next week.”