Tyrod's growth, Bama vs. UF and Big Suh 

October, 16, 2009

On the eve of Red River, USC/ND and South Carolina/Bama (I'll be in Dallas for the first of those three games), let's hit the mailbag:

From Paul in Blacksburg, Va: Is Tyrod Taylor the most improved player in the country?

He's definitely near the top of the list, if not the top. Keep in mind that for all his talents, he still only came into the season with a 2-7 TD-INT ratio -- obviously horrible -- making him a big question mark on a team that was still highly ranked in the preseason. But he really has delivered, doing a complete 180 this fall, going 8-1 TD-INT. He's playing smarter and making much better decisions. Best of all, I think we've seen the growth he's made over the course of this season as he's settled into a rhythm (along with the maturation of his young group of receivers).

The best example of this growth is courtesy of ESPN Next Level researcher Ben Lerner, who notes in Tech's first three games this year, Taylor was just 6-of-17 for 229 yards and one TD on passes thrown more than 15 yards downfield. In the past three games, Taylor is 13-of-20 for 400 yards and five TDs off that distance. You can see it in Taylor's yards per attempt going from 5.99 last year all the way up to 9.57 now. (Anything over nine yards per attempt is outstanding.)

That ability to stretch the field is only gonna help RB Ryan Williams.

I'd say the big question for Taylor is can he keep it up on the road?

To read the rest of Bruce's mailbag -- more thoughts on whether Arkansas can stun Florida, Suh for Heisman, whether it's a down year for the SEC, ND's big recruiting weekend and more -- you must be an ESPN Insider. Insider