Ryan Willis and the Quarterback Situation

Ryan Willis will take over behind center this week. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

Virginia Tech will have a new starting quarterback this week against Duke. Brandon Patterson went over some film from Saturday’s game, but I want to add my thoughts about Ryan Willis, the quarterback situation, and the future of the position.

Ryan Willis

First of all, I think we can ignore the numbers Ryan Willis put up while at Kansas. He was thrust into the starting lineup of a terrible team as an 18-year old. That’s not conducive to success. However, it is nice to have a backup quarterback who has starting experience at the college level. In fact, he’s appeared in more college games (18) than Josh Jackson (16).

I don’t think Tech has ever quite had a quarterback like Willis. He has the gun-slinging mentality of Michael Brewer, but I don’t think he possesses the natural passing ability of Brewer. Willis has a big arm, but there’s a difference between being a good thrower and a big passer. I don’t think he’s comparable to any past Tech quarterback, but from a mentality standpoint, Brewer is probably the most comparable, since they both come from Big 12 country (Willis is a Kansas native), where everybody throws the football around the yard. I don’t know that Willis is as popular as Brewer. I have no idea how Willis is viewed by the team, but I know that Brewer was a naturally charismatic guy and everybody on the team was drawn to him. I don’t expect Willis to be able to emulate that part of Brewer’s game, though it would be nice.

I’ve seen Ryan Willis in a Spring Game, where he was really good. I’ve seen him in maybe two or three open practices, where he did not stand out as being either good or bad. Anybody who saw him in the Spring Game knows he has a big arm, and he can throw the deep ball. But what else do we know?