Last week Logan Thomas became the first quarterback in Virginia Tech history to pass for 300-plus yards in two consecutive games. Do I hear three?
Here are several reasons to like Thomas’ chances Saturday against Maryland:
First and foremost, he’s throwing confidently and accurately. Second, his wide receivers, redshirt freshman Joshua Stanford in particular, are blossoming late in the season. Third, Maryland’s porous pass defense.
Not coincidentally, Thomas had memorable games against the Yellow Jackets and Eagles. He passed for 221 yards and a touchdown without an interception against Georgia Tech, despite a painful abdominal strain; he threw for a career-high 391 yards at Boston College, a performance marred by two critical interceptions.
But Thomas followed up that loss to BC with a flawless game at Miami last week, completing 25-of-31 for 366 yards and a touchdown in a 42-24 victory that keeps the Hokies in contention for the ACC Coastal Division title.
“I told our team, ‘We can all learn from Logan,’” coach Frank Beamer said, “because the week before Logan really played a great football game except for a couple of plays. The flak and what he went through last week, he didn’t panic, he kept his focus straight ahead, he came back and played a really great football game. I’m really proud him. He plays like that and we help him, we got a pretty good football team.”
Comrade Wood is writing in more detail about that help, but here are some quick stats and observations:
* Stanford is starting to figure it out. In the season’s first eight games, he caught 21 passes for 284 yards, a per-catch average of 13.5. Against Boston College and Miami, he had a combined 13 receptions for 278 yards, a 21.4-yard per-catch average.
* Of Thomas’ 28 completions for 20 yards or more this season, 12 came in the last two games.
* Based on his size, skills and approach, I think Stanford is going to be a star. Sure, he’s dropped a few passes. Rare is the rookie who doesn’t. But at 6-foot-1, 196 pounds, he’s willing and able to absorb the shots receivers inevitably take going across the middle and/or elevating for the ball.
Most impressive is Stanford’s accountability, a trait he first showed publicly after Thomas threw two pick-sixes in Virginia Tech’s spring game.
“The second pick was my fault,” Stanford said then. “I was supposed to come underneath the cornerback, but I went around him because he was kind of sitting at my depth, but Logan had already let the ball go. … That's one of my failings, and I need to be able to get underneath on those routes.”
Stanford blamed himself for the first pick-six because four plays earlier, Der'Woun Greene tackled him from behind at the 4-yard line after a 57-yard completion.
“My legs gave out on me on the slant,” Stanford said. “I got tired. If I score there, Logan never throws the … pick-six.”
We published those quotes after the spring game, but they merit repeating. When a talented young athlete is that selfless and team-oriented, good things usually happen.
Saturday is Virginia Tech’s home finale, and the Hokies (7-3, 4-2 ACC) have plenty at stake. If they defeat Maryland and Virginia to close the regular season, they would play Florida State in the ACC championship game, provided Duke (7-2, 3-2) loses one of its three remaining games (Miami, at Wake Forest and at North Carolina).
Regardless, Saturday is the last Lane Stadium appearance for 13 seniors, most of them high-profile. On defense: Derrick Hopkins, Jack Tyler, James Gayle, J.R. Collins, Tariq Edwards, Tyrel Wilson, Kyle Fuller and Antone Exum, the latter two out with injuries. On offense: D.J. Coles, Tony Gregory, Trey Gresh, Andrew Miller and Thomas.
“I think you guys know me pretty well,” Thomas said. “I don’t think you’ll see too much emotion out of me. I’m pretty much the same way all the time. The only reason it will be emotional for me is it’s been a long journey. It’s had its ups and downs. … But I’ve had a great five years here thus far. I’ve met a lot of great people, made a lot of great friends. For me it’s going to be remembering all these people that I have met. … Not so much the football aspect. Football comes and goes, but friendships don’t.”
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