Virginia Tech Football: Breaking Down Hokies' QB Contenders for 2015 Season
For the Virginia Tech Hokies, it's all about the quarterback. For the past three seasons, Tech has struggled on offense. It's no coincidence that the Hokies have struggled at the quarterback position.
Former starter Logan Thomas was a physical marvel. He was an outstanding runner and possessed a howitzer of an arm. However, he struggled reading coverages and anticipating receivers' routes, and he often held onto the ball too long.
Last year's starter, Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer, got off to a strong start. Brewer played very well in Tech's Week 2 upset of eventual national champion Ohio State. Unfortunately, that was his only shining moment of the 2014 campaign.
He struggled with turnovers, which led him to be more skittish in the pocket. One of Brewer's biggest strengths before was his ability to put bad plays behind him quickly. He didn't trust his own decision-making or the offensive line, so his hesitancy in the pocket led to more sacks late in the season.
Brewer has one more year of eligibility remaining and will surely be in the mix in 2015. But, unlike last year, he will face several capable competitors beginning this spring.
Brewer is the incumbent. He is, however, far from a lock to return as the starting quarterback in 2015.
He does have several thing in his favor, though. First, his experience. Longtime head coach Frank Beamer is a loyal individual. He generally always sticks with struggling quarterbacks, as he did with Brewer in 2014.
Secondly, Brewer's toughness is a trait that endears him to his teammates. After Tech's win over Ohio State, in which Brewer limped to the locker room after the win, fullback Sam Rogers was impressed, per Rusty Miller of the Associated Press, via the Washington Times. "He’s tough,” Rogers said. “I have complete trust in him.
Toughness or a coach's stubbornness won't win next year's starting quarterback battle for Brewer. He needs to show coaches he's put last year behind him and prove he's the most advanced passer on the roster.
Brenden Motley was arguably Virginia Tech's most popular player in 2014.
Because he was the backup quarterback to a struggling Brewer. When Motley did play, he showed some ability to move the offense, albeit with his feet.
As a passer, though, Motley is raw. He has a strong arm and good size (6'4", 214 lbs).
Motley will be in the mix this spring. But before he overtakes Brewer, he must prove to coaches he can move the offense through the air.
Redshirt freshman Andrew Ford, a 6'3", 205-pound left-hander from Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, is perhaps the most underrated competitor heading into spring practice.
Ford enrolled last January and practiced with the team during the spring. It was an excellent opportunity for the freshman to acclimate himself to the college game, while learning offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler's offense.
Ford is strong in the pocket. He can move, but that's not his game. He doesn't have the strongest arm on the roster; however, he may be Tech's most accurate passer.
Ford has a legitimate shot to win the starting quarterback job in 2015.
Like Ford, Chris Durkin was a part of the class of 2014. He also redshirted.
Durkin is the biggest quarterback on Tech's roster (6'4", 235) and is also a tremendous athlete. Just looking at him, you see a big, strong-armed pocket passer. But he is actually a very good runner, too.
It's unclear how much Durkin advanced as a passer in his redshirt season. From all indications, Ford is ahead of him, but that may have changed.
Durkin has the most talent of all four of the returnees. He has the arm, movement skills and is tough in the pocket.
Expect to see a lot of Durkin in Virginia Tech's spring game, as coaches will want to see how far he's progressed within a game situation.
Enter the wild card to win Virginia Tech's starting quarterback job in 2015.
Freshman Dwayne Lawson, who committed to the Hokies earlier this month, is a 6'6", 207-pound dual-threat passer from Hillsborough High in Tampa, Florida.
As his high school film indicates, Lawson is a tremendous athlete who also possesses a very good arm. In high school, he did throw the ball a lot downfield, something many high school passers don't get the opportunity to do. He was very accurate, too.
Keep in mind, Lawson was likely a man among boys in high school. He was bigger, stronger and faster than everyone else on the field. But his arm strength and ball placement projects very well at the next level.
Lawson won't be with the Hokies until the summer, so it's tough to see him winning the job, but don't be surprised if coaches don't find a way to get him on the field in 2015.
Clemson found a way to get Deshaun Watson on the field in 2014, and he proved to everyone he was the Tigers' best option under center. Could Lawson do the same for VT in 2015?