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Lessons, and hits, come quickly for Hokies' new QBs

BLACKSBURG

Charley Meyer was open on a curl if Andrew Ford had acted a little more quickly.

Instead, the Virginia Tech freshman quarterback didn't pull the trigger. He rolled to his left away from the play and eventually threw the ball away as a mass of defenders closed in.

"His eyes were about as big as they can get. He should have ripped the curl," Hokies offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said afterward, a point he emphatically made to Ford on the field as well. "He got to find out how fast college football was."

Virginia Tech's first spring scrimmage at Lane Stadium on Saturday was an education for all involved, featuring the usual disjointed offensive play the coaches expect from a group that has only had five practices.

"Obviously it was the good, the bad, the ugly," Loeffler said. "There were some really good things. There were some really bad things. It was a prototypical first scrimmage."

The lone touchdown in the 40-some plays epitomized the day. Quarterback Mark Leal tripped while coming out from under center on the handoff but pitched the ball back to Jerome Wright before he hit the ground. After hesitating briefly, Wright sidestepped his way through the defense and ran 43 yards for a score.

But most eyes in the stadium zeroed in on the quarterbacks - Leal, Brenden Motley and Ford, just a few of the possible candidates to be Logan Thomas' successor.

Leal (3 for 9, 34 yards, one interception) and Motley (5 for 7, 36 yards) got most of the work, although Ford, who was officially 0 for 1, got reps as well.

A 6-foot-3, 193-pound lefty from Camp Hill, Pa., Ford enrolled in January to get a jump on his college career.

Often labeled a cerebral quarterback, he entered the spring fairly advanced from an X's and O's point. But the X's and O's move much quicker at the college level.

"It's a lot different than high school," Ford said. "A lot faster, but at the same time, coach Loeffler is doing a great job of bringing us along. It's not overwhelming. When I got into the scrimmage today, I felt comfortable."

Comfort is a relative term, however. Hence the wide eyes Loeffler described, a rite of passage for every freshman quarterback.

"Every single one known to man," Loeffler said. "That first one out there is different."

Ford said Loeffler's message Saturday was simple: enjoy yourself. The heavy days of instruction are the Tuesday and Thursday practices. The Saturday scrimmages were to "let us play," Ford said, although Loeffler's fervid instruction after every rep didn't seem restrained.

Ford gutted through less than perfect circumstances. The center-quarterback exchange was a problem, in large part due to injuries that held out David Wang and Kyle Chung, the top two players on the depth chart.

Even when he did get the ball cleanly, Ford knew he needed to anticipate throws better. If that wasn't clear, Loeffler hammered home the point after Ford pulled down the possible pass to Meyer.

"He says if a throw is there, don't pass it up for a throw that could be more open," Ford said. "If a guy is open, get it to him. He said that's going to be a great play for me to see on film, a great learning moment."

There probably will be plenty of those this spring for Ford, the newbie of the group. Leal is a fifth-year senior, one who's had a full year of backup reps in Loeffler's system. Motley, though still fairly new to a pro-style offense, still has nearly completed two years in the program.

All of this is new for Ford.

"It's a good time for him because he's going to get a lot of reps," head coach Frank Beamer said. "If he keeps on coming - I think he's got to get the ball out of there a little quicker - but as he learns, if he can continue to lead, I think we'll see where he ends up.

"But he's done well so far for a new guy coming in here."

The quarterback competition doesn't figure to truly ramp up until this summer, after Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer and freshman Chris Durkin arrive. That's well in the future for Ford, who's trying to live in the moment.

"As a quarterback group, we're really just trying to push each other every single day," he said. "We're kind of the beat of the offense, is what coach Loeffler says, and we've got to be the best every single day and the team will follow."

Posted to: College Football Sports Va. Tech Football Virginia

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