Virginia Tech’s Brenden Motley, Jerod Evans Discuss Quarterback Battle

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Virginia Tech QBs Jerod Evans and Brenden Motley
Offensive Coordinator Brad Cornelson (left middle) coaches quarterbacks Jerod Evans (4) and Brenden Motley (9) during a Virginia Tech practice. (photo by Jon Fleming)

Jerod Evans first met Brenden Motley at Top of the Stairs, a bar in downtown Blacksburg. Motley bought him a drink and welcomed Evans to Virginia Tech.

“I’m 22, so don’t get no idea,” Evans joked. “It was, ‘Congrats man, now let’s get to business’. He gave me a warm welcome here. On the field, he’s very business-oriented, I’m very business-oriented, we just want the team to win.”

Now, Evans and Motley are locked in a tight quarterback battle to see who will start for the Hokies on Sep. 3 against Liberty.

“I know that this is important to them,” said Virginia Tech football Head Coach Justin Fuente. “They’ve worked hard and been diligent in their preparation to give themselves a chance to have success. I feel like I have a decent feel for them, as good as I could right now.”

Fuente said the quarterbacks are still sharing the first-team reps, and that he has yet to make a decision on who will earn the job.

“I figure it would be premature for me to do that and it would be a discredit to those kids,” Fuente said. “We go into it every day with an open mind and evaluate it as we go.”

For Motley, fighting for playing time is nothing new. He’s played in just 15 games in his career, and has started only six of them, all coming last season.

However, this competition is a little different for Motley, a fifth-year senior.

“This is my last year though, so obviously it means a little bit more,” Motley said.

Evans is still settling in at Virginia Tech. He says he’s built relationships with teammates, even though he’s nowhere near done.

“You have to do your due diligence, get to know them,” Evans said. “I’m still doing that. It’s only been seven or eight months, so I’m still getting to know them. I think it’s gone pretty smooth.”

Virginia Tech quarterback Jerod Evans
Jerod Evans (4) is still getting to know his teammates after transferring just a few months ago. (photo by Ivan Morozov)

Motley and Evans on the New Offense

Both Motley and Evans are learning a new offense. Motley played last season under former Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, while Evans played last season at Trinity Valley Community College at the JUCO-level.

“I like it a lot,” Motley said of the new offense. “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 been doing a great job helping us out, the transition has gone smooth.”

“It’s an era of spread the ball and go fast-tempo,” Evans said. “A lot of teams are doing what we’re doing.”

Motley said that this offense is easier to run than the offense the Hokies employed last season.

“It’s simple and sweet,” Motley said. “Get the call, get lined up and run the play and execute. It’s simple and sweet and that’s how I think it should be.”

Of course, neither quarterback has shown they’ve mastered the offense. Fuente says that while he’s confident in both quarterbacks, he still needs to see both of them grow before the beginning of the season.

“We’re still trying to improve, we’re still trying to get both of them better, but daily I feel better about both of them,” Fuente said.

Fortunately for Fuente, Motley and Evans have similar skill sets. Both are big, athletic quarterbacks with strong arms, and have shown their ability to make plays.

“I think everybody has small nuances that they’re better or worse at, and those two are certainly no exception,” Fuente said. “I don’t think it’s going to be a situation where, at least it hasn’t been in practice and I don’t anticipate it being a deal, where it’s cumbersome in terms of this guy can only run these plays, this other guy can only do these plays. I think you try to tilt it to their skill set the best you can. It’s not like one of them is a 5-foot-11 guy; they’re both big, good athletes.”

Fuente Brings the Intensity

Fuente isn’t taking it easy on them either. He lets them know when they mess up and tests them constantly in practice.

Virginia Tech quarterback Brenden Motley takes it in for a TD against the Boilermakers.
Brenden Motley (9) started six games for Virginia Tech in 2015. (photo by Ivan Morozov)

“If we don’t go where we’re supposed to go with the ball, he’s at us pretty hard,” Motley said. “That’s what the position is all about, pressure. Sometimes you’ll be under pressure, and you’ve got to execute, you’ve got to make those plays when you are under pressure.”

“Coach Fuente has his methods,” Evans said. “It depends on if you’re used to it or not. I’m very used to it. People in my face, not in my face, I’m used to those situations. He wants to see, just like anything, he wants to see if the guy that you choose folds under pressure, if he’s ready for the stage.”

“We try to put some pressure on them during practice,” Fuente said. “I usually handle part of that.

“It’s one thing to drop back and throw the ball in 7-on-7 drills, it’s another thing to get hit pretty hard and get up and go play the next play,” Fuente said.

What’s Fuente looking for in his starting quarterback?

“To me, it’s taking care of the football, managing your emotions and the ups and downs of the game and predicted outcomes,” Fuente said. “Those three things to me, trying to boil the quarterback situation into three sentences, that’s what I would say. Value the football, handle the ups and downs of a ball game, which is a lot easier said than done, predicted outcomes, doing what you’re coached to do. It doesn’t necessarily mean the result is positive, there are a lot of variables out there on any given play. That’s why sometimes, statistics can be misleading in trying to determine a quarterback. Is a guy doing what we ask him to do on a consistent basis?”

Fuente, along with Offensive Coordinator Brad Cornelson, keeps both Motley and Evans updated on where they stand, something that both quarterbacks appreciate.

“Every day, the coaches are telling us that we’re out here to get the team better and keep working, work on consistency,” Motley said. “Bring the team along with you, bring the second team along with you. Right now, we’re just trying to go out on the field and execute and make the plays when they come along.”

“Coach has always been up front from the get go,” Evans said. “He tells us it’s a competition like he did when I first came in here. We’re fighting in out. We’re both quarterbacks, we have the same position, we both want what’s best for the team. We want this team to succeed, and we’re just having a battle right now.”

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11 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Reset folks…Reset!!!

    Offense under CSL was series of reads and pro-style depth patterns which our offensive line was incapable of holding off a pass rush sufficient to give the QB time to make the throws.

    Total reset w/ this offense with mindset to run to LOS and snap ball vs stare at sideline, as the reads are simplified and patterned are timing and quick.

    Motley vs Evans. May the best QB in this system win!!!

    Let’s Go Hokies…blow out the Flames and let’s hang half an hundred on the Volunteers.

  2. Motley did better than I expected last year…however the Miami game exposed him as not having the edge that Brewer had. With UT, ND, UNC, Miami, Pitt and lots of good teams on the schedule hopefully one of them has that edge that will get us a few wins. If not, it may be a long season.

    1. See, people need to realize that Motley actually wasn’t that bad. 14 total TDs, 7INTs. He wasn’t outstanding but he was more than serviceable.

      1. Td/Int Splits vs Non-Bowl Teams:
        7/0

        Splits vs bowl teams
        7/7

        He is a really serviceable starter for a non-bowl team. If you want to compete, not very good

  3. While I agree with griff09 I am thinking CF believes there is a good chance we will need both quarterbacks to get through the season. So he is giving both players reps with the #1s to prepare them for their time. It’s possible and likely that both will be able to get a good number of plays vs Liberty. Playing in front of 66,000+ will add even more pressure to the battle. Then Coach will know who is true first team guy will be.

    I like the fact the head coach is a QB coach and will be involved in the decision.

    Thanks for the interviews and the article.

    1. since this new relentless-fast tempo O requires a lot of player substitution to keep fresh lungs and legs on the field, the “#1 and #2 O groups” may not be so discernible as far as RBs and WRs go.
      I know we will still have a quote #1 RB and #1 WR group, but mass and select-situation substitutions may lead to a blending of the #1s and #2s – maybe even some #3s – at certain positions + figure in different personnel groups for different situations = a lot of personnel to learn to mesh with.

      one of the practice emphases has been to get a lot of players confident, capable and ready to play at almost any time beside a variety of players.

      for Motley and Evans to both have experience with all the personnel groups, the #1 through #3 position players, and select-situation units requires working with all the groups and individuals. so running with the #1 group today and the #2 group tomorrow may not be a bad thing – in fact it could be a good thing!

  4. Hopefully we have a decision soon. I am more in the camp of, whomever you pick (obviously I have a mental favorite, but regardless), pick them soon so they maximize reps with the 1st team and build chemistry. We don’t need 2 1st team QBs, if you have 2- you have none. Unfortunately, it appears we have none right now. This fan base won’t be overly happy to see Motley out there…..honestly, I have talked around and everyone I have personally talked to would be sick. I trust coach to choose the best, but do recognize that Motley would have more pressure from the fans and crowd. Personally, I think we have seen what Motley is capable of, and if Evans hasn’t won it yet, we are in for a long year at QB.

    Great article RLB

    1. Maybe it’s my “glass half-full” nature but I think you’re doing a disservice to Motley saying that we have seen what he is capable of… We have seen what he looked like as a Junior back-up QB pushed into the starting roll. I would like to think that another year in the program, plus learning from his experience last season will help Motley improve. How much, I don’t know, but I don’t believe last year was necessarily Motley’s ceiling. Frankly, I’m thrilled that he appears to have come along enough to make this a legitimate competition. I don’t view it as, VT not getting what they thought in Evans but more so, VT is getting more than they may have thought out of Motley. In any case, I hope the debate/conversation can continue without having to crap on one guy to prop up the other. Based on their mobile-style of play, I think it’s reasonable to assume we will need both guys at some point during the season.

      1. Good point of view. I can admit I have fallen into the “next-man up” idea but to echo what I see you are reminding us: Its easy to want to move on and discount Motley and the growth he’s likely had as a result of 2014 and 2015 campaign. I looked back and Motley had a 128% passer rating last year vs Michael’s 131%. The year before Motley was 80- 84%. But We only remember the Losses and on-field optics. But as you point out, that darn kid was shoved into action and showed as much heart and performance gutting out that 2014 and 2015 year as Michael Brewer did. Motley took his share of beatings for the Hokies while our O-line, Running Backs, and Receivers worked on growing up. I do remember that Virginia game vividly in 2014? He lost his stomach on the field after he took that head shot and still he got stabilized and was ready for more. He came back even better the next year.

      2. I struggle to only view Motley as serviceable because of the offensive system he played under. No running game and no time to make complex reads is a recipe for disaster. While Brewer might have been a better QB (might), the results were not that different. Under both of them the offense was terrible, but I don’t believe it was because of either one of them, it was just a bad scheme.

        I think Motley has a lot of potential and I’m excited to see how he performs in an offense more suited to his skills. But maybe more importantly in an offense that isn’t inept by design.

    2. agree 100%. with all do respect, Evans was a JUCO player…he could be amazing, but in reality his past level of competition was nowhere near the ACC. unless im wrong and hes the next cam newton, him and Motley may truly be neck and neck.

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