GREENSBORO, Ga. – Sean Glennon admits a two-quarterback system isn't ideal, but the fifth-year senior is preparing for the possibility that Virginia Tech will continue the strategy that helped it win the ACC title last season.
"Right now I'm focused on becoming the best quarterback I can be," Glennon said Sunday at ACC Media Days at the Reynolds Plantation Ritz-Carlton Lodge. "Hopefully I can be the full-time guy. If not, I'll accept the role as best as I can, like I did last year, and just do the best I can while I'm in there."
Glennon opened the 2007 season as the Hokies' starter, but he was replaced by Tyrod Taylor during a 48-7 loss to LSU in the second week of the season. Glennon regained his job in mid-October when Taylor sprained his right ankle in a 43-14 victory over Duke.
After Taylor returned to action a month later against Florida State, the two split time the rest of the season. Virginia Tech went 4-1 using that strategy as Taylor's mobility and Glennon's passing accuracy allowed the two to complement each other.
That doesn't necessarily mean the Hokies will continue the strategy this season. Tech coach Frank Beamer hasn't indicated whether he will stick with one quarterback or continue alternating Glennon and Taylor.
"Basically they said it would make life easier if one of you is head and shoulders above the other, (that) we'd like to go with one guy," Glennon said. "But if it looks like playing both of (us) is the best way to win games, that's what they're going to do."
Glennon went 9-of-15 for 119 yards and two touchdowns in the spring game, while Taylor was 11-of-19 for 67 yards with an interception. Even though Glennon outperformed Taylor this spring, the Hokies may reward Taylor's upside over Glennon's senior experience. Taylor's running ability could make the sophomore a better fit to run an offense that lacks proven receivers or running backs.
Of course, Glennon isn't the first ACC quarterback who's had to compete with a highly recruited teammate. Glennon has spoken this week with Florida State's Drew Weatherford, who spent much of his career dueling with former five-star prospect Xavier Lee and now must fight off a challenge from Christian Ponder.
"We talked about how even though we've been starters for a few years, we've had to fight for our jobs," Glennon said. "(Our careers) definitely have followed similar paths."
Johnson's famed triple-option attack that won so many games at Navy and Division I-AA Georgia Southern will get its chance to prove successful in a "Big Six" conference, and senior offensive tackle Andrew Gardner says Johnson is convinced the Yellow Jackets can win right away.
"I sense a lot of frustrations from Coach and the questions he receives," Gardner said. "I think he is tired of hearing the offense question. I think he's tired of hearing about how we won't be good this year and how we can't be good in the first year … I certainly think he is looking forward to this year so he can prove himself and prove that this system works."
Other than what Georgia Tech expects will be improved results on the scoreboard, Gardner says opposing defensive lines will notice another difference that will make the Yellow Jackets a force in the trenches.
"Probably the amount of cut blocking that we are going to be doing," Gardner said when asked what will make the Jackets' offensive line tough to penetrate. "I think just about every team in the ACC is going to not be looking forward to the week they see Georgia Tech on the schedule because they are going to get their legs knocked out from underneath them about a million times, so they've got to watch out."
The system demands mobility from all five line positions, which caused a change in the conditioning program for linemen.
"(There is) a lot more running, especially tackles," Gardner said. "A lot of plays you are expected to run 20 yards downfield trying to get to the safety and do a lot of second- and third -level blocking."
ACC players continue to believe their league is much stronger than its national perception. The league has an early opportunity to boost its flagging reputation.
"It's going to definitely be a big statement week for the ACC," Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper said. "If we can come out of there ACC 2, SEC 0, that would make a big statement to start the year off right."
Florida State defensive end Everette Brown usually wreaks havoc with opposing quarterbacks, but he recently also caused problems for his own quarterback. Weatherford overslept Sunday and was unable to make his scheduled tee time with Harper and Glennon.
"Everette Brown was snoring till about 4:30 in the morning, and I didn't get to sleep until 5," Weatherford joked to the media. "I knew I was going to have to deal with you guys all day, so I figured I might as well get some sleep."
Harper said that he lost five balls on his way to shooting 52 in a nine-hole round. Harper indicated Glennon finished five strokes ahead of him.
North Carolina State tight end Anthony Hill says he's more than all the way back after missing the 2007 season with a torn ACL in his left knee. Hill believes he's even better than before.
"I'm 110 percent back now," Hill said. "I feel faster than I was before I left – definitely faster. I'm definitely back."
Hill wasn't the only player with that sentiment.
Harper had arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder before last season's Chick-fil-A bowl. Harper believes he has recovered so well that his arm is reacting even better than it did before he got hurt.
"Right now, I feel like I'm throwing the ball better than I ever have," Harper said.
Will They Be Ready?
Virginia doesn't need much motivation to get pumped for its season opener. The Cavaliers welcome USC to Scott Stadium on Aug. 30.
"Excited isn't the word," Virginia linebacker Clint Sintim said. "Ecstatic is the word."
If recent history offers any indication, the Cavaliers won't be feeling too ecstatic by the end of the day. Virginia opened its season last year with a 23-3 loss to Wyoming. If the Cavaliers have a similar effort against USC, the score could get ugly in a hurry.
Sintim said the Cavaliers have learned their lesson.
"You've just got to come prepared every game," Sintim said. "They out-schemed us and outplayed us. Hats off to them. We just want to come out this year and try not to let that happen again."
Almost a Panther
Wake Forest cornerback Alphonso Smith enters his senior season as a legitimate All-America candidate, but he almost didn't end up with the Demon Deacons at all.
Smith committed to Pittsburgh before his mother and two Pahokee (Fla.) High School teammates talked him into changing his mind on National Signing Day.
He was about to sign the letter-of-intent with Pitt and was sitting between Pahokee classmates Antonio Wilson and Demir Boldin – two Wake Forest recruits – when his mother arrived at the high school holding a phone. Wake Forest recruiting coordinator Ray McCartney was on the other end of the line.
Smith said he intentionally had left his Wake Forest letter-of-intent at home. When he mentioned to his mom that he didn't have the Wake Forest letter with him, she promptly reached into her purse and pulled it out. When he pointed out that he didn't have a Wake Forest hat, she immediately gave him one.
"She's on the phone with Coach (McCartney) saying, 'Yeah, I think he's going to sign,' '' Smith recalled. "And Antonio and D.J. are on me (saying), 'Come on, man. We'll have fun. We'll turn this thing around.' ''
Smith finally gave in and signed with Wake Forest. Then he had to make one more call.
"I had to call the Pitt coach and say I signed with Wake," Smith said. 'He was like, 'What?!?' "
The impact of new Duke coach David Cutcliffe is evident from a look at his players.
Defensive tackle Vince Oghobaase said his body-fat percentage went from 25 percent in January to 20 percent by the end of April. Oghobaase said the team collectively has lost 400 pounds since Cutcliffe's arrival.
"The physical conditioning of our football team is most definitely the biggest change noticeable right now," Oghobaase said. "Guys look great. Guys are in much better physical condition than when Coach Cutcliffe came in."