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May 8, 2014

Uncertainty remains at football's most important position

By: Jimmy Robertson

Tech’s 2014 spring practice ended with the annual Maroon-White game held April 26, so what do fans now know about the quarterback position heading into the fall?

Well, not too much.

“We’re so far away from being ready to play at that position,” offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said days before the spring game. “We’ve got a lot of work to do to get to where we need to be at the quarterback position.”

Loeffler never planned on naming a starter at the conclusion of spring practice because he wanted to get an evaluation of two incoming quarterbacks this summer – Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer and freshman Chris Durkin. Both are expected to be on campus in late May.

Those two, in addition to Mark Leal, Brenden Motley and Andrew Ford, give Loeffler five options to choose from when practice kicks off in early August. He expects to make a decision quickly.

“You can’t rep five guys,” Loeffler said. “It’s impossible to rep five guys. We’ll get it down to the top two, top three, wherever we’re at. That’s not the first time we’ve had to pick a starting quarterback in the fall. We’ll get a great evaluation over the next couple of months and make a decision.”

In the final depth chart before the spring game – the coaching staff did not do a depth chart following the game – Motley held a tentative grip on the top spot at the position. He did not play a snap last season, but showed flashes of talent this spring – and also flashes of inexperience.

He completed 6 of 11 for 72 yards, with an interception in the spring game. His best performance this spring came in the second scrimmage, when he completed 12 of 20 for 163 yards and a touchdown.

“He’s improved,” Loeffler said. “Obviously, he was getting reps for the first time. Last year, he didn’t get a lot of reps because No. 1, he wasn’t in spring football (knee injury), and No. 2, I got Logan [Thomas] as many reps as I possibly could and Mark received the rest. We didn’t rep a third last year.

“I’d like to get it that way with these five guys. I’d like to get it to two guys who I think have a shot and rep them to death and see where this thing goes. But Brenden’s improved.”

Leal, the lone senior in the group, was at the top of the depth chart during the early part of spring. But he missed the team’s second scrimmage because of a knee/hamstring injury, and Motley jumped him after his strong performance.

Ford, who enrolled in January, took advantage of an opportunity in that second scrimmage with Leal on the sideline. He completed 12 of 15 for 150 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. He was sacked several times, and he got off to a slow start, but got better as the scrimmage went along.

Leal’s return limited the number of reps that Ford received the rest of spring practice. However, Loeffler was able to get a good evaluation of him.

“He’s a guy right now that should be hanging out in high school,” Loeffler said. “He needs to physically get bigger. He needs to work on technique some. He’s going to be a guy that will do all of the above. He’s going to gain 15 pounds, no doubt. He’s a smart kid. He’ll fight his tail off to get where he needs to be. But it’s going to be a process.”

Brewer represents an intriguing option. He was set to be the starter at Texas Tech last season, but an injury allowed two others to jump him, and he decided to transfer to Blacksburg. Durkin, at 230 pounds, will be the biggest quarterback on the roster, but he also can run.

In fact, all five of the contenders possess that trait – which Loeffler likes.

“Football has changed in terms of you better have a guy who can extend a play because it’s not always perfect,” he said. “You want it perfect, but it’s not always perfect. So having a guy back there who can get out of trouble is an advantage, for sure.

“All the guys we have here have enough speed and athletic ability to get themselves out of trouble, and that’s what we want. We want a guy that can first throw the football, but not just throw the football. We want a guy that can throw, extend a play, have some athleticism to run some spread runs and go from there.”

2014 SPRING DEPTH CHART (as of April 22)


9 Brenden Motley (6-4, 219, r-So.)

6 Mark Leal (6-1, 218, r-Sr.)

17 Andrew Ford (6-3, 195, Fr.)