Safety Larry Asante blitzed untouched off the left edge and planted Tyrod Taylor just as he uncorked the pass. Didn't matter. Taylor threw a 34-yard strike to Jarrett Boykin.
End Zach Potter beat Ed Wang's block and punished Taylor just as he released the ball. Didn't matter. Taylor found Boykin for 24 yards.
Those two second-quarter passes were the best of Taylor's Virginia Tech career. They led to a mere field goal, but they symbolized a reborn passing threat that keyed the Hokies' 35-30 victory Saturday night at Nebraska.
"We're starting to trust the wide receivers to make big plays," said Boykin, a freshman. "The quarterback, he's always been ready to make big plays. He can throw the ball with any distraction.
"For him to be punished like that makes it all the more rewarding when I catch the ball."
In two previous starts this season, Taylor had not thrown for more than 125 yards, that in last week's escape at North Carolina. He bested that total by one in the first half alone against the Cornhuskers.
And when Nebraska cut an 18-point deficit to five, and as the clock ticked inside of six minutes, Taylor connected with Dyrell Roberts for 12 yards on third-and-5.
The short darts of previous weeks were replaced by downfield looks. There were hookups of 40 and 14 yards with Andre Smith, 17 and 16 yards with Greg Boone.
Taylor, 8-0 as a starter in two years, finished with 171 yards and, most important and unlike Nebraska counterpart Joe Ganz, he did not throw an interception. He completed nine of his 15 attempts as the Hokies produced season bests in yards (377) and points.
"They made great catches," Taylor said of his receivers, "and the line did a good job of protecting me."
Typical Tyrod. He's downright allergic to talking about himself.
Oh, and on the off chance you forget about his mobility, he broke runs of 30, 20 and 18 yards. Taylor totaled a game-high 87 rushing yards.
"That's what Tyrod brings to the table," Tech coach Frank Beamer said. "I think he's in control. He's very aware of things. Tyrod's not easy to contain."
This was a critical game for Taylor. Ineffective as a passer — 74 yards combined against Furman and Georgia Tech — since taking over from Sean Glennon as the starter, he faced a Nebraska defense that often crowds the line of scrimmage and plays man-to-man pass coverage.
No complex reads required. Drop back, buy some time in the pocket and find a receiver.
Taylor did just that last season against Florida State after Glennon sustained a concussion, passing for 204 yards on just 10 completions in a 40-21 victory.
Sure enough, Taylor's first throw Saturday was downfield to an open Roberts, who caught the pass but failed to keep a foot inbounds at the Nebraska 10 for what would have been a 26-yard gain.
But the Hokies kept probing, and the efforts paid with a victory that sets them up well for the season's second half.
Next week's homecoming against Western Kentucky is a walkover that will leave Tech 5-1 at the turn entering an open date. That gives the Hokies two weeks to prepare for a test at Boston College that starts a closing stretch of six consecutive ACC games.
Just look at the conference's Coastal Division. Miami, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Virginia all have dropped a league game, leaving Virginia Tech and Duke alone as unscathed.
Anyone think the Blue Devils are going to run the table? Didn't think so.
So at 2-0, the Hokies have an early edge.
This was also a statement game for Nebraska's defense, traditionally rugged and tagged the "Blackshirts" for the practice jerseys awarded the first-string.
Well, last season was an embarrassment for the Cornhuskers. They ranked 112th nationally in total defense, 114th in scoring defense and 116th in rushing defense.
Exit Bill Callahan as coach, enter Bo Pelini. A former Nebraska defensive coordinator, Pelini had served in the same capacity at LSU before returning to Big Red Country as the big whistle.
Pelini's tenure started with forgettable victories over Western Michigan, San Jose State and New Mexico State. Virginia Tech was the first test.
The defense could not handle Tyrod Taylor.
David Teel can be reached at 247-4636 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more from Teel, read his blog at dailypress.com/teeltimeCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun