As he walked off the field after his third touchdown pass of the
first half in last Saturday's 48-22 victory over Rutgers,
Virginia Tech junior Bryan Randall was stopped by the man who
wants his job: redshirt freshman Marcus Vick. There was no
quarterback controversy, or even a competition, only a
compliment. "Man," Vick said, "you're having a Rod Rutherford
kind of day."
Vick was referring to the pinball stats (1,171 yards, 16 TDs,
best-in-the-nation 182.6 passer rating) of the Pitt quarterback,
but Randall is not just turning in impressive numbers. His solid
play has transformed the Hokies' offense into more than merely
running back Kevin Jones and his Heisman helpers. It also has
made fourth-ranked Virginia Tech, still flying under the radar in
the Miami-dominated Big East, a bona fide national title
contender. "There was a time when we asked Bryan to just turn
around, hand it off and not lose the game for us," quarterbacks
coach Kevin Rogers says. "Now we can ask him to win it for us."
As the 6'1", 221-pound Randall battled for the starting job in
the off-season with the younger brother of Hokies great Michael
Vick, the Tech coaches stressed to Randall the need to be what
they call a "proprietor of the football"--to keep the ball safe
and make the most of the Hokies' possessions. He's doing just
that. Randall, known as a scrambler, had 12 interceptions to go
with 12 touchdowns in his first two seasons. This year he's
flourishing in the pocket, having completed 68% of his passes and
thrown for nine touchdowns and just two picks.
On Saturday his maturity was most evident on his first TD pass.
Randall's presnap read was Cover 2, with two deep safeties, so he
switched from his primary receiver to his secondary, Chris
Shreve, on a corner route. After waiting for Shreve to break
open, he lofted a feathery pass into the receiver's arms for a
28-yard score. "Staying in the pocket and waiting for that play
to develop can take a long time," Randall says. "Last year I
don't know if I would have had the patience to make that throw."
Randall finished 16 of 22 for 250 yards, four touchdowns and a
load of confidence--just what he needs as the Hokies enter their
toughest stretch of games: Syracuse, West Virginia, Miami and
Pitt. "Things are coming to me clearly," he says. "I know what
the defense is doing. I know what to do. Things are falling into
place." --Gene Menez