After four years in Blacksburg, senior quarterback Tyrod Taylor is set to end his storied career at Virginia Tech. He's already set the mark for the most wins in school history with 34, been part of three ACC Championship teams and won an Orange Bowl.
Without Taylor, the Hokies wouldn't be going to Miami on January 3rd to take on No. 4 Stanford. Yes, the Hokies have become the only team in the history of college football to make it to a BCS bowl after losing to an FCS (formerly Div-II) opponent, but that shows their resiliency, and it shows the fight in their senior leader.
Say what you want about Virginia Tech, but they've won 11 in a row since losing the first two games of the season. They're currently playing some of the best football in the nation.
Taylor has been the primary reason for that success, and he's the reason the Hokies will beat Stanford.
In fact, here are five reasons why Taylor will be too much for Stanford to handle.
Taylor is the 12th most efficient quarterback in college football this season, and, yes Andrew Luck ranks sixth. However, Taylor's progression as a passer has been nothing short of incredible. Lets recap.
In his first season at Tech, Taylor had 927 passing yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions. His sophomore year was worse. He threw for 1,036 yards and had only two touchdowns through the air with seven picks.
Last year, Taylor threw 13 touchdowns with only five picks and had 2,311 yards through the air. In 2010, the senior has thrown 23 touchdowns (a Virginia Tech record) with only four interceptions and 2,521 yards passing.
He's also completing over 60 percent of his passes, and, oh yeah, he can run the ball too. Luck is technially more efficient, but Taylor has evolved into the exact type of quarterback that a Virginia Tech offense is built around. He's a passer first, and can hurt you with the run. It's a huge advantage to have when going against opposing defenses.
And before Stanford fans go crazy, this is one of the reasons why having Taylor will help the Hokies win the Orange Bowl. Doesn't mean the same can't be argued for Luck and company.
Past Virginia Tech teams have not played well from behind, but that can't be said for this year's squad. The Hokies have trailed in almost every game they've played, and they've come back from huge deficits.
The ability to win those games is what separates good teams from great teams. The Hokies inability to do so in the beginning of the season is why they're a good team this year. That being said, Taylor led a very impressive comeback against Boise State, but the Broncos pulled it out in the end.
Playing without the lead and winning games gives any team a huge advantage in every game they play. Taylor knows how to play from behind, and the Hokies have largely been a second half team this season.
It's likely the score of this game will be somewhat high, and the Hokies know how to score points, but their ability to play without the lead will be key.
Having Taylor leading the way only helps matters.
Having a senior quarterback with as much experience as Taylor is a huge advantage for any team. He's started 41 games for the Hokies, soon to be 42, and he's won 34 of those.
Taylor has been a huge part of three ACC titles, and two Orange Bowls. In his first Orange Bowl as a freshman, Taylor threw a costly interception to Kansas' Aquib Talib who returned the pick for six. It ended up being the difference in the game, but the Hokies didn't show a tremendous amount of motivation in that one.
His next Orange Bowl appearance went a little bit better. Taylor and Darren Evans led the way in the Hokies victory of Cincinnati—giving the ACC their first BCS victory in close to a decade.
Taylor and a number of other players on the Hokies have played in at least one Orange Bowl, which is a huge advantage. The bright lights of a BCS bowl is not going to blind this team, and Taylor will be the leading the way.
If you saw the ACC Championship game where the Hokies beat Florida State you were probably impressed by Taylor's escapability. Taylor often refused to be sacked, and he even said after the game that he wasn't sure where his feet were taking him—he just went where they led him.
Two plays stand out more than the others. There's was one time Taylor escaped three or four Seminole pass rushers and ran about 65 yards to gain 10 and pick up the first down. The other was in the red zone where Taylor juked multiple FSU defenders to find his way into the endzone. Basically sealing the game for the Hokies.
It's always great to have a lethal passer, but when you have a guy with instincts, athleticism and the escapability that Taylor has you're at a huge advantage.
Taylor is a playmaker that finds a way to win week-in and week-out, and he will escape the Stanford pass rush more times than they'll snatch him up.
If the Hokies had won their first two games of the season, it wouldn't be a stretch to say that Taylor deserved some Heisman consideration. Would he have won it? No, because the winner has never been more obvious with Auburn's Cam Newton.
That being said, Taylor is the Hokies version of the Heisman winner. The award means very little, and Taylor would much rather win an Orange Bowl. However, you can tell in interviews with the senior that he and his teammates are playing with a chip on their shoulder.
They're well aware of their losses this season, and being reminded of their loss to JMU has probably just fueled the fire. What's comical, is teams that the Hokies have beaten still use that against them. Taylor has been playing like a man possessed for much of the year, and he's got the ACC Player of the Year award to prove it.
He's tired of hearing about the JMU loss, how bad the ACC has been this year and how Virginia Tech doesn't belong in a BCS bowl.
Taylor can't control any of that, but he can control how he plays and how he uses the criticism to focus on the ultimate goal, which is winning. Taylor has one final game at Virginia Tech and it's in one of the biggest bowl games the postseason has to offer.
Like it or not, Virginia Tech is here, and Taylor is going to show the nation why they deserve to be mentioned among the nations best.