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A Criticism and Defense of Virginia Tech Quarterback Tyrod Taylor

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When I first read this post from Annette, I was a little offended Tyrod Taylor warranted only a passing mention when talking about the ACC's best quarterbacks. After last week's games, Taylor was second in the nation by hundredths of a yard in yards per attempt and No.5 in the nation in passer rating. He led the league in both categories.

But after digging a little deeper, those numbers appear a little inflated by Taylor's performance against inferior competition. But while the numbers may lie, Taylor has definitely passed the eye test since the last drive against Nebraska on Sept. 19.

Picking Poor Defenses Apart?

Taylor's 159.9 passer rating and 9.8 yards per attempt appear bright and shiny. But they lose their luster when you break it down game-by-game.

Three of Virginia Tech's seven games have come against teams ranked in last week's AP Top 25. While Taylor hasn't necessarily struggled in those games, he has made his hay in the other four.

 

Tyrod Taylor Passing
G Pct Ypa Ypg Int TD Rat
vs. Ranked 3 53.5 8.1 116.0 2 2 127.5
vs. Unranked 4 60.0 10.7 201.5 1 7 178.4

The three ranked opponents Taylor has faced were ranked No. 4 (Bama), No. 58 (Miami) and No. 102 (GT) in yards per attempt allowed after last week's games. The four unranked teams came in at No. 13 (Neb), No. 33 (Marsh), No. 51 (BC) and No. 95 (Duke). So the argument can be made that Taylor's big numbers in the games against unranked opponents came against better competition, with the obvious exception being Alabama.

But the difference comes when you compare Taylor's numbers to that of other league quarterbacks. Jacory Harris and Christian Ponder have also faced three teams ranked in last week's AP poll.

Harris has a 146.2 rating and has six touchdowns against three picks against ranked teams. However, he averages a Taylor-esque 8.0 ypa in those games.

Ponder also averages about the same with 8.2 ypa against ranked teams. He also has an incredible 165.0 rating and has thrown nine touchdowns and one interception in those three games. Ponder has made the difference in the Seminoles' wins this year.

A Different Quarterback

You can alter stats to make them say whatever you want them to. The three types of lies are lies, damn lies and statistics and statistics rarely give you the whole story. The same debate exists in baseball. Sabrmetricians can only give you a glimpse of how a player has performed. Scouts still play a major role in determining a player's worth.

That delicate balance exists with Taylor as well in my opinion. For nearly three whole games, Taylor just looked uncomfortable in his own skin to me. He hesitated to use his athletic ability to make plays and tried to force some passes. Then came his 81-yard pass to Danny Coale in the fourth quarter against Nebraska. Three plays later he connected with Dyrell Roberts for the game-winning touchdown.

He scrambled to buy time and found an open receiver on both plays. Prior to that drive, Taylor was 28-for-60 passing. Since then he's looked like a completely different quarterback. He seems more confident in the pocket, more confident in his teammates and more confident in his own decision-making ability when it comes to throwing vs. running. Including his last four games and the last drive against Nebraska, Taylor is 40-for-58 passing.

Not only has his completion percentage skyrocketed, his throws and runs have often picked up key first downs for the Hokies. If he keeps performing this way, the Hokies are going to be hard to beat in their last five games. And if he maintains his high level he could start receiving recognition as one of the better quarterbacks in a league full of good quarterbacks.