It’s the position where everyone wants answers, but it is also one where no answers seem to exist.
Redshirt sophomore Brenden Motley finished the spring at the top of the depth chart, narrowly edging out redshirt senior Mark Leal and true freshman Andrew Ford.
Of the three, Ford seemed to drop out of the competition relatively early, but he still offers hope for the future. He got beaten up behind Tech’s second- and third-string offensive lines, but he flashed good accuracy at times. He’ll need more seasoning, but he did nothing to destroy offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler’s confidence in his abilities.
The race between Motley and Leal is murkier. The veterans were competing less for the starting job and more for a chance to prove themselves against newcomers Chris Durkin and Michael Brewer this August, but neither made a huge statement.
However, the biggest differences that became apparent between the two were mobility and confidence while running the offense. Motley exhibited flashes of each, while Leal really didn’t.
Loeffler frequently gave Motley the chance to run the read-option, and he often did so effectively, such as on the play that produced the spring game’s lone touchdown by Joel Caleb.
Motley made the right read, handed the ball off to Caleb, and the running back made a few nice cuts to take it to the house. Loeffler has a solid stable of runners to work with, and if Motley can just get out of the way and let them do their job, he could be effective.
But Motley also improves the offense with his running ability. He had a 19-yard touchdown run called back due to holding, but he still ran six times for 17 yards on the day, discounting lost yards on sacks.
He also flashed a big arm at times, as evidenced by the sideline throw to Deon Newsome featured above.
Motley has missed on some similar throws in the team’s previous scrimmages, but he’s shown that he has the arm strength and the confidence to go deep when necessary.
Leal just hasn’t shown the same kind of strides. For a player that’s spent six years in the program, he still looks uncomfortable under center at times, and he hasn’t made the most of his quickness in the pocket.
He too is capable of throwing an impressive deep ball—he threw a gorgeous pass down the right sideline to Willie Byrn for a 39-yard gain in the spring game—but he hasn’t done it with as much consistency as Motley.
For now, Motley reigns supreme on the depth chart. He’ll find himself in a tough competition with Brewer and Durkin when they arrive on campus, but he did do some good things this spring to show that he could probably function as an ACC quarterback.
However, the group hasn’t exactly been dynamic overall. The position has depth, and it will only get deeper when the other two prospects arrive. But to this point, the quarterbacks have merely been average.