- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 6, 2008

The seconds slipped away at a snail-like pace, 13 of them in all. N.C. State’s Russell Wilson stood in the middle of the field. And he stood. And he stood.

It was the first mobile quarterback Maryland saw all season, and his multifaceted skill set almost dealt the Terrapins a costly loss Oct. 25.

And now Maryland might have to contend with another quarterback like Wilson just 12 days later.

Might.

The Great Virginia Tech Quarterback Mystery will dissipate Thursday, when the Hokies (5-3, 2-2 ACC) trot out Tyrod Taylor, Sean Glennon or Cory Holt to start against the No. 23 Terps (6-2, 3-1) at Lane Stadium.

Taylor and Glennon are both questionable with left ankle sprains suffered two weeks ago at Florida State. Taylor, the regular starter, is perhaps more elusive than Wilson. Holt, a third-stringer who moved to wide receiver late last season, is also quick.

It leaves the Terps in a tight spot - preparing for three quarterbacks, two of whom possess the same traits as the player who recently confounded Maryland’s defensive line, ran past the Terps’ linebackers and left defensive backs in coverage for an eternity.

“It’s the fundamentals: Stay with your man while the quarterback is scrambling,” cornerback Jamari McCollough said. “At the same time, when you know the quarterback likes to run, it’s like a magnet trying to pull you. It’s like, ‘Is he going to run, or is he going to throw it?’ The main thing is to stay disciplined.”

It’s easy to say but hardly simple to follow through on when it’s something new.

The Terps’ struggles with opponents unleashing speed on the perimeter in recent years is well-chronicled, and Maryland planned to constrict the pocket with a greater reliance on bull rushes against N.C. State. When it didn’t work, it left Wilson with plenty of time to maneuver - a tendency the Hokies likely observed.

“We had some schemes set up to contain the quarterback, but some of them made it worse,” defensive lineman Dean Muhtadi said. “Live and learn. We’re better adjusted to them.”

Any schematic tweaks don’t change the problems the Terps encountered when they lost containment against Wilson. If Taylor’s high ankle sprain is almost fully healed, he could create havoc even if he can evade one or two defenders near the line of scrimmage.

Given the Hokies’ reliance on the run - Taylor is averaging 83.6 yards passing and 63.1 yards rushing - containing a quarterback could be the most significant task facing the Terps on Thursday.

“We just have to keep them inside the pocket,” linebacker Moise Fokou said. “I think this game is going to be a running game, a physical game. Pound, pound, pound ‘em. Hopefully they don’t get up like Florida State did to them.”

There’s also the matter of who will play for the Hokies. Coach Frank Beamer remained tight-lipped for more than a week on the subject, closing practice in Blacksburg, Va., and offering few meaningful details.

Taylor, a run-reliant sophomore who started the last seven games, is a nuisance if healthy. Glennon, last year’s ACC title game MVP, is a more traditional pocket passer.

Then there’s Holt, a fifth-year senior who was 3-for-6 for 28 yards and a touchdown against Florida State in his first work at quarterback in more than a year. The 6-foot-4, 215-pounder might be a hybrid of the two ailing players ahead of him.

“I don’t think he’s as fast as Taylor, but I think he’s very athletic,” coach Ralph Friedgen said. “I think Glennon can probably run pretty good too straight ahead. Holt is, I think, a combination of both.”

That leaves plenty for Maryland to ponder as it begins its push for an ACC title this month. The Terps are playing their first game as a ranked team in nearly two years and know they need no outside help to lock up the ACC’s Atlantic Division over the next four games.

What remains uncertain is whether they can handle a mobile quarterback in the season’s closing weeks.

Muhtadi said facing Wilson provided an undeniable benefit. Then again, it’s unclear how much it will help until the Hokies unveil their quarterback.

“We don’t know who’s going to play until we line up out there,” McCollough said. “They can even be warming up and come out there the first play, and it’s somebody you don’t even expect. It’s basically whoever’s out there is out there and we have to be ready.”

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