August 9, 2016
Starting quarterback job still wide open
Tech coach Justin Fuente said the competition is still ongoing, but he feels good about the direction that both are heading
Post-practice news conference quotes

Coach Fuente


By Jimmy Robertson

BLACKSBURG – For the first time since the Independence Bowl, Virginia Tech quarterbacks talked to media members, as both Brenden Motley and Jérod Evans fielded questions Tuesday night following the Hokies’ sixth practice of the fall.

Tech held a scrimmage during practice and the four quarterbacks split the reps, as freshmen Jack Click and Josh Jackson also received work. But head coach Justin Fuente’s analysis of the position didn’t differ from what he said at the ACC Kickoff, at Tech’s preseason news conference and following the Hokies’ first practice of the fall this past Thursday.

“I don’t have a sense,” Fuente said when asked if he had an idea of whom the starter might be. “I think it would just be premature for me to say that and it would be a disservice to those kids. We’re going to keep working and evaluate as we go.

“We’re still trying to improve. We’re still trying to get both of them [Motley and Evans] better, but daily, I feel better about them.”

Motley and Evans separated themselves from the pack roughly halfway through spring practice. Motley certainly possesses the edge in terms of experience, being a fifth-year senior and having started six games a year ago, but Fuente recruited Evans while at Memphis and ultimately convinced the junior-college transfer to come to Blacksburg.

“The coach has always been up front from the get-go,” Evans said. “He told me there would be competition, like he did when I first came in here. We’re fighting it out. We’re both quarterbacks. We’re both playing the same position. We both have the same goal for the team. We want to see this team succeed. We’re having a battle right now. Coach will make that decision when he deems it necessary to make that decision.”

Motley, meanwhile, expected competition, never assuming the job was his.

“You’ve got to have depth everywhere and that’s their guy that they had from Memphis, I believe,” Motley said. “I expected them to recruit. They’re going to recruit the position and that’s what they should do. The deeper we are at every position, the better we are.”

Tech fans know what they’re getting with Motley, a 6-foot-4, 230-pounder who said he’s in the best shape of his career. In addition to throwing for more than 1,100 yards, Motley also rushed for more than 200, giving the Hokies a dual-threat option at the position.

Evans, a 6-4, 240-pounder, put up big numbers at Trinity Valley Community College in Texas, throwing for nearly 400 yards per game and tossing 38 touchdown passes.

Both figure to be good fits in Fuente’s offense, whoever wins the job. And both quarterbacks like the faster-paced attack.

“It has its pros and cons, but I like it,” Motley said. “It’s fast-paced. It’s a lot of fun when you get rolling. It is different, but I like it. I enjoy it a lot. The coaches have done a good job of helping us out. The transition has been smooth, so I’m enjoying it. It’s awesome.”

“It’s pretty much the same [as his junior college offense],” Evans said. “All the teams are running spread offenses. They just might run things a little differently. They might run the zone more or they might want to throw the ball down the field more. It all mixes.

“At the end of the day, it’s the same thing. Football is football. You’ve got to go score. You’ve got to go tackle. You’ve got to have more points than the opponent. The spread is the new regime of football right now.”

Neither quarterback expressed an opinion as to when they’d like to see a decision made on the starting job. Quite honestly, it’s a battle that may rage until the week before the season opener against Liberty on Sept. 3.

“If that’s what Coach wants to do, that’s what we’ll do,” Motley said. “I have no problem at all. I’m a team-first guy. I know Rod is a team-first guy. If that’s what Coach wants to do, that’s fine with me.”

Fuente said he’s primarily looking at three things to help him with the decision. The one who does those three the best will be the starter.

“Taking care of the football, managing your emotions and the ups and downs of the game and predicted outcomes,” Fuente said, ticking off the three most important things when evaluating a quarterback. “If I had to boil down the quarterback situation to three sentences, that’s what I would say. Value the football, handle the ups and downs, which is easier said than done, and predicted outcomes, which is doing what you’re coached to do.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean the result is positive. There are a lot of variables out there. That’s why statistics are misleading when evaluating a quarterback. Is a guy doing what you’re asking him to do on a consistent basis?”

The battle will continue, but not tomorrow, as the Hokies take the day off before resuming practice on Thursday. They will practice three straight days before taking off for Fan Day on Sunday.

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