BLACKSBURG — While Virginia Tech's announcement regarding who will start at quarterback could be resolved as soon as Saturday, freshman wide receiver Isaiah Ford may already have pushed his way into the starting lineup.
Tech came out of Friday's final closed scrimmage before its Aug. 30 season opener against William and Mary with no final determination on whether Michael Brewer or Mark Leal will be the starting quarterback, but Coach Frank Beamer and offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler both indicated the decision could be made public Saturday.
"They've made it hard," Beamer said of Brewer's and Leal's preseason performances. "Both of them have played really well … and then I thought (finally healthy third-team quarterback Brenden) Motley got back (Friday) and did some good things. He made a couple throws that were suspect, but they've made it hard."
Beamer said Tech's coaches will review film of the scrimmage in the next few days, but Loeffler revealed Tech will have a staff meeting Saturday. After the meeting, coaches will meet with players and move forward with the decision, Loeffler said.
"Throughout these last couple weeks and evaluating past performances, evaluating academics, there's a lot of combinations in this decision," said Loeffler, who added some discussions about finalizing the offensive line starting group and how to utilize six available scholarship running backs will also take place Saturday. "Obviously, performance is number one, but at the end of the day, it's who we think can go out and lead our team and gives us the best chance to win.
"Regardless of who we name, it doesn't matter which direction we go, they're both going to be needed. … The luxury Virginia Tech has had with (former starting quarterback) Logan (Thomas) is he's 6-foot-6 and 255 pounds. That's not our luxury this year."
Though only team statistics and a scoring recap from the scrimmage were made available to reporters, Beamer pointed out a few individuals who caught his attention. He said Ford had four catches for 94 yards, and three of the catches went for touchdowns.
Beamer also added that freshman running back Marshawn Williams had 54 yards rushing. Williams, a Phoebus High graduate, was finally cleared Thursday for full participation in practice after having surgery July 25 for a hernia. Beamer said running Trey Edmunds still looked like he lacked some burst as he continues to recover from a broken tibia suffered last November.
Tech only had 87 yards rushing on 45 carries in the scrimmage, while the quarterbacks combined to complete 11 of 28 passes for 174 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Hokies converted on just 2 of 17 third-down opportunities, putting it at a combined 3-for-33 on third-down conversions in their two preseason scrimmages.
Brewer, a 6-foot, 200-pound junior, had very little insight to offer after Friday's scrimmage into which direction he thinks coaches will go with the starting quarterback decision.
"I don't know," Brewer said. "We'll see. Mark and I don't really know anything yet, and I'm sure they'll make a decision soon."
Leal, a 6-1, 204-pound senior, was equally as clueless about where the quarterback competition stands.
"It's still a mystery," Leal said. "We have no idea. … We're just controlling what we can. Whenever Coach figures he'll make the call, (Brewer and Leal will) probably get the call and he'll let us know."
As far as Ford's chances to start against W&M are concerned, Beamer didn't hesitate to heap praise on his young receiver. He mentioned Ford is No. 1 on the depth chart at one of the receiver spots.
"He's definitely a go," Beamer said. "I think that kid's got a lot of ability and a level head."
Tech receivers coach Aaron Moorehead said there's no question Ford has put himself in position to get on the field in a hurry.
"There's no doubt about it," Moorehead said. "You're going to play the best two or three guys, whatever you count as your starters. He's definitely in that group, and he deserves it. Period."
Ford, a 6-1, 174-pound native of Jacksonville, Fla., caught touchdown passes of 35 yards from Leal and 26 and 27 yards from Brewer in the scrimmage. Leal also threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to tight end Bucky Hodges, and Motley had a 4-yard touchdown pass to freshman receiver Cam Phillips.
Ford said he now looks forward to competing with a player like a Tech All-America candidate, cornerback Kendall Fuller, in practice after getting adjusted to college ball.
"From the first day we put on full pads, it was a transition," said Ford, who added he's also talked to Tech basketball coach Buzz Williams about possibly playing for the basketball team beginning in January — a move Ford said he's already gotten approval for from Beamer.
"I had to get used to the physicality and everyone being bigger than at the high school level, but I feel like I transitioned pretty well. Then, I just got used to doing the things I've been doing my whole life — just trying to make plays and attacking the ball."
Wood can be reached by phone at 757-247-4642.