Even the best quarterbacks agree that succeeding at the position requires an almost unhealthy amount of confidence.
But ever since his breakout season in 2011, Logan Thomas has been one unconfident quarterback.
That all started to change against East Carolina.
In his first two games this season, Thomas completed just 22 of 57 passes for 259 yards and a lone touchdown.
On Saturday, he managed to eclipse nearly all of those numbers, completing 25 passes for 258 yards and two scores.
Those aren’t exactly mind-blowing stats, but they’re a positive sign for a quarterback that has desperately needed something to get excited about recently.
“Everything was clicking,” Thomas said. “I felt comfortable all day long. I was able to just throw it around the yard.”
This comfort level is something that’s been sorely lacking from Thomas’ game for the better part of the last year.
But now, he’s finally started to feel in tune with new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler.
“We were kind of on the same page, I kind of knew what he was going to call,” Thomas said. “At one point in time, I got on the headset, and I knew exactly what his thoughts were for the next coming up possession. That’s how it’s supposed to be, how you’re supposed to understand each other.”
This confidence was especially on display early in the third quarter when he told Loeffler one key phrase.
“I just came to the sideline after our first drive in the third quarter and I said ‘Throw it,’” Thomas said. “That’s all I said to coach and he said the same thing back and I guess from then on we threw the ball the majority of the time and we felt that we had the advantage in the passing game.”
Part of this newfound familiarity stems from Thomas’ growing experience with Loeffler’s system of progressions, the proscribed order in which Thomas has to look for each receiver before delivering the ball.
“We would have progressions (in the old offense), but they weren’t talked about in the same way as we talk about them now,” Thomas said. “They really run the offense, how we throw the football, so I feel a lot more confident and a lot more comfortable in this new way.”
However, he hasn’t worked all the kinks out just yet.
“I think I had two missed progressions,” Thomas said. “It wasn’t anything catastrophic, I’ve just got to keep getting better and keep refining it because the two that I missed could’ve been 10 plus yard plays.”
Thomas also left a little to be desired with his vision. One of his throws late in the fourth quarter was nearly intercepted for a touchdown by ECU’s Montese Overton when he tried to hit running back Chris Mangus.
“I didn’t even see him,” Thomas said. “Apparently he rushed the tackle and then he faded out so I didn’t see him through the tackle, but he made a good play. Thankfully he didn’t make the best play possible.”
But the one interception that Thomas did throw wasn’t entirely his fault. The quarterback tried another deep pass to receiver Demitri Knowles that ended up being picked off.
“I should’ve jumped up for it but I kind of fell a little bit and I should have jumped,” Knowles said. “So I’ll take that one.”
With the exception of that failure, the receivers played remarkably well against the Pirates.
“Demitri made a couple tough catches, Josh (Stanford) made a couple tough catches and (Willie Byrn), he’s as dependable as the day is long,” said head coach Frank Beamer.
Knowles and Byrn had particularly good games, as they caught eight balls for 99 yards and seven for 63 yards respectively.
“I’m gaining confidence when they gain confidence,” Thomas said. “The more I see them with smiles on their faces when they’re out there on the practice field or game field, I know they’re having fun.”
Despite the interception, Knowles had the best statistical game of his young career, and he’s finally starting get in sync with Thomas.
“I still feel like we’ve got a lot more trust to build, but I feel like it’s starting to click,” Knowles said.
Byrn has also developed into a dependable short-yardage target for Thomas.
“For the underneath stuff, he does a great job of knowing where he needs to be and that’s the type of person we’ve got to have in that situation,” Thomas said. “You can always count on him to be where he’s supposed to be and then make the play.”
Yet with a matchup looming against a Thundering Herd defense that’s allowed the fifth fewest yards in the country, both Thomas and his receivers will have to be especially sharp on Saturday.
“I’ve got to be able to go through all my stuff and at the same time those receivers have got to be able to do their thing and paint the picture for me,” Thomas said. “We’ve just got to go out there and do what we do.”