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Va. Tech backup QB getting education from Loeffler

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Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2013 12:00 am

BLACKSBURG - Mark Leal felt good about his quarterbacking technique until he met Scot Loeffler.

What did Loeffler, Virginia Tech's new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, want to change?

"It was pretty much everything, to be honest with you. Everything I did," said Leal, the Hokies' backup to senior starter Logan Thomas. "We thought we were doing it right. Then Loeffler comes in. He nitpicks everything we had."

And while much attention has been paid to Loeffler's work with Thomas, Loeffler, a former Temple and Auburn coordinator, has spent plenty of time with Leal.

Leal said he's been blown away by Loeffler's teaching of the finer points of quarterbacking.

"Until then, I didn't know there could be so much learning at one spot, without even running a football play," Leal said. "Just all mechanics."

Loeffler worked with Thomas on delivering the ball from a more upright stance and on getting his shoulders pointed to the intended receiver. He's coached Leal on his footwork, especially his drop-backs and movement in the pocket, and his progression through his receiving options.

And Loeffler has been impressed with what Leal's done this camp.

"I like Mark a lot. I think he's had a ridiculous camp," Loeffler said. "I think he has had a really good camp."

Loeffler has challenged Leal with an intense, sometimes in-your-face coaching style that Leal said is working well with all the offensive players.

"A lot of it has to do with our mental toughness," Leal said. "I think that's why he is the way he is. He tries to get in your head and see how you respond to situations like that. If you mess up one play, he's getting in your head, trying to get on your nerves and see how you react to it. It's different. I think its something we needed around here."

Leal, a junior and Florida native who redshirted in 2010, has played in five games over the past two seasons, completing 13 of 19 passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns.

Earlier in camp, Tech announced redshirt freshman Brenden Motley would be the team's third quarterback, behind Thomas and Leal.

Loeffler said he's seen enough from Leal to believe the Hokies could win this year with him under center, if necessary. He also said Leal is capable of running the same offensive package as Thomas, despite the two players' obvious physical differences.

"That's what's nice," Loeffler said.

While Thomas is 6-foot-6 and 254 pounds, Leal is 6-1 and 217. Yet anything Tech can do with Thomas, Loeffler said it can also do with Leal.

"I think he just has confidence in me," Leal said. "I've been able to prove and show time after time that whatever it is we can run, I can do it. I can make any throw, check and all that good stuff if I have to."

Thomas has started 27 consecutive games at quarterback and the Hokies haven't had to start their No. 2 quarterback in a game since 2008.

Still, last week's run of injuries was a painful reminder of how suddenly a backup can be pressed into action.

"It just reminds you that this game of football is very physical," Leal said. "All it takes is one play. You're always one play from somebody going down, somebody getting hurt. You just have to be ready at all times."

mbarber@timesdispatch.com (804) 980-6188 @RTD_MikeBarber

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