Did Tyrod Taylor Regress as a Passer in 2008?

When he prematurely assessed Virginia Tech's 2009 season, Dr. Saturday brought up Tyrod Taylor's lack of progress as a passer. This riled a few people on the TechSideline message boards, who were a little defensive of an outsider taking a few light jabs at Tyrod.

However, while Tyrod was better rushing the ball in 2008 than he was in 2007, he certainly didn't impress as a passer.

Tyrod Taylor in ACC Play
Year Att Comp Pct Yds YPA TD INT Rat
2007 69 40 58.0 495 7.2 4 2 131.56
2008 116 63 54.3 574 4.9 1 6 88.37

I think the touchdown-to-interception ratio should raise some red flags. You can put some of drop in yards per attempt on the receivers. They were new and most of their routes until the later part of the year were shorter than the ones being run by Royal, Morgan and company in 2007. But the fact that Tyrod threw one touchdown versus six interceptions in league play is startling.

Tyrod was effective against Georgia Tech and North Carolina, despite throwing two interceptions against the Tar Heels. He played within the offense and led the Hokies to two very important intradivison wins. But things fell apart against Boston College and toward the end of the game you could tell he just didn't trust his receivers.

This was surprising because it came after two of Tyrod's best games (by passer rating) against Nebraska and Western Kentucky. The offense seemed to be coming together, but disintegrated in Chestnut Hill.

Tyrod's struggles continued against Miami and Duke before he finally put together a great game against Virginia. That game saw him throw his only touchdown in conference play.

All these numbers point to Tyrod having regressed as a passer. His completion percentage, yards per attempt, touchdowns and passer rating were all down. His interceptions went up.

And if you apply the efficiency stats we looked at last week to Tyrod, you see another big drop.

Abbreviations: OppAtt - passing attempts against VT opponents for the 2008 season in ACC games; OppYds - passing yards allowed by VT opponents in ACC games; OppYPA - YPA allowed by VT opponents in ACC play; TTAtt - Tyrod's passing attempts in ACC games; ExYds - OppYPA x TTAtt (yards Tyrod was expected to throw for); TTYds - Tyrod's passing yards in ACC play; TTEff - TTYds / ExYds (1.000 is right on the money, above is good, below is bad).

Tyrod Taylor Efficiency in ACC Play
Year OppAtt OppYds OppYPA TTAtt ExYds TTYds TTEff
2007 2436 16768 6.9 69 475.0 495 1.042
2008 2124 13503 6.4 116 737.5 574 0.778

On a per game level, Tyrod only threw for more yards than he was expected to twice - against North Carolina and Virginia. His numbers against Boston College and Duke (albeit on two very cold nights) were particularly brutal.

In 2007, Tyrod was also above par only twice, but had only one bad game by efficiency. And that game was the Miami game in which he only attempted two passes.

Numbers don't tell the whole story. The Hokie receivers weren't very good in 2008, especially early on. Then there's in infamous "hitch" in Tyrod's delivery which made him look more like a baseball pitcher than a quarterback at times. His motion appears more fluid now, looking at VTPhreak's video from the spring game.

His protection also needs to improve. The Hokies gave up 26 sacks (!) in conference play last year, dead last in the ACC. And that's with a mobile quarterback. That was year after the Hokies were No. 11 in the ACC in sacks allowed in conference play with an astronomical 36 with Sean Glennon taking a lot of snaps. He has to be given more time to throw, but looking at the same spring game video, I'm not sure that's going to be the case.

It may again be up to Tyrod to buy time outside of the pocket for his receivers to get open. And hopefully they'll be better at getting open than they were in 2008.

The Hokies' ACC and potential national title hopes begin and end with Tyrod. The defense will be solid as always and the running back tandem of Darren Evans and Ryan Williams gives them to weapons in the backfield.

But those two can only carry the team so far. Tyrod's interceptions and yards per attempt have to improve for Tech to defend the ACC championship this year.

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