Coming into the 2013 season, local and national media alike agreed that Virginia Tech’s football season hinged on the success of quarterback Logan Thomas.
Through four weeks, that prediction has held strong.
“We couldn’t have a better leader than Logan, he’s tough and we’re very happy to follow that guy,” said head coach Frank Beamer.
Yet so far in 2013, Thomas has completed just 48.5 percent of his passes for 698 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions.
While dropped passes have no doubt hindered his stat line over the season’s first month, Thomas’ inconsistencies as a passer have also played a large part in his numbers so far.
There are some plays where Thomas looks like the future NFL star many believe he can still become, but there are others that make fans shake their head in disbelief.
Tech’s offense has had 13 scoring drives this season - 11 ending in touchdowns and two ending in field goals.
Thomas didn’t throw a pass on three of those possessions – one because backup Mark Leal was in late in the game against Western Carolina, and two because of long runs by Trey Edmunds and Chris Mangus.
During the remaining 10 scoring drives, Thomas is 34-of-45 passing (75.6 percent) for 371 yards and, obviously, all four of his touchdowns.
Those numbers are astounding, especially if you consider the fact that his numbers on drives that don’t end in points for Tech are as follows: 31-of-89 passing (34.8 percent) for 327 yards and all six of his interceptions.
“I guess the only thing that happens is getting the momentum going. I think, starting the drive off with obviously a first down, it starts getting things going,” Thomas said.
Thomas was even lucky to throw for one of those scores, as his touchdown toss to receiver Willie Byrn to tie the Marshall game was very nearly intercepted.
“Most of the tips haven’t gone our way this year in the pass game,” Byrn said. “We were lucky we got this one to go our way.”
The quarterback’s problems with consistency were on display earlier in the game.
On second down at Marshall’s 12-yard line, Thomas had an open receiver in fullback Sam Rogers who could’ve walked in for an easy touchdown. Instead, Thomas was late delivering the ball and overthrew Rogers.
“They brought edge pressure, so I ended up stepping up and throwing it quick,” Thomas said. “I tried to lead him and let him run underneath it, because I knew if I hit him it was a touchdown, but I put it about three inches too far in front of his hands.”
But Thomas came right back on fourth down to hit Josh Stanford with a perfect pass for a first down on the one-yard line.
“Stanford made a great catch in the middle of the field and he turned up the field and just pounded it home,” Thomas said. “He’s one of those guys, if we can get him confident and get him going, he can be a really, really special receiver.”
The sequence perfectly demonstrated why so many see so much potential in Thomas, yet also why the Hokies offense has struggled this year.
“If you look at this game, even on the long drives, there was too many mistakes. Last week was our biggest mistake game hands down,” said offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler.
“We made more mistakes, left more yardage on the field than any game we’ve played so far. There was way too many mistakes in that game that left major drives that stopped, and also the ability to score.”
It goes without saying that Thomas’ athleticism, size and arm strength make him an NFL scout’s dream. But his mechanics have been called into question, as has his accuracy and decision-making, ever since the middle of the 2012 season.
Again, it’s not as though Thomas is incapable of producing – it’s just that in order for the Hokies to be successful in 2013, he’ll need to do it more consistently.
“I think that’s how we’re built as an offense,” Thomas said. “We’re not a big, explosive-play offense. We’re going to have to keep drives going, keep making drives happen. You know, you got to start it all off with a first down.”