Thomas flashes his potential again as Hokies down Jackets
ATLANTA -- He has the size and he has the arm and the athleticism, tools that had Logan Thomas billed as Virginia Tech's next great quarterback when he arrived in Blacksburg in 2009.
The reality has been a career where "potential" continues to be his most defining characteristic.
While he's left his mark on the school record books and the NFL scouts still love him, Thomas' has been, more often than not, maddeningly frustrating for Hokies fans.
But if there's a team against whom Thomas seems to live up to it all, it's Georgia Tech. He and the Hokies beat their ACC Coastal Division rival for the fourth straight time 17-10 Thursday night to improve to 4-1 and 1-0 in league play.
"I thought he was excellent ... his leadership, his throwing, his decision-making, being in control," said Hokies coach Frank Beamer.
Thomas, a redshirt senior, came into Bobby Dodd Stadium completing 48.5 percent of his passes and had thrown two more interceptions (six) than touchdowns (four). His pass efficiency rating of 93.2 was dead last in the ACC and didn't make the top 100 nationally.
He was also nursing an abdominal strain that kept him out of practice all week and Thomas didn't attempt to throw a pass until the team arrived at Georgia Tech.
"I had to get ready mentally going in," Thomas said. "I knew I had to be tough. ... I just had to grind this one out."
Thomas and offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler believed they had two distinct advantages against the Yellow Jackets' defense -- and the 6-foot-6 quarterback provided both of them.
Never mind that Georgia Tech (3-1, 2-1) boasted the nation's 11th-ranked D and that the Hokies were averaging a paltry 180.8 yards per game through the air; Virginia Tech was determined to show they could throw. Never mind that the Jackets were giving up 96.5 ypg on the ground; with Thomas, the Hokies believed they could run.
There were right on both accounts.
Thomas would complete his first pass, then another, hitting D.J. Coles for a 21-yard touchdown on the Hokies' second play of the game.
He wouldn't miss until his 10th attempt, which came in the second quarter, and finished with 221 yards and a 76 percent completion percentage (19 of 25) that was his best in 25 games.
"Watching film I knew we had a chance I knew we were going to throw it early and often and get whatever we can and I was just seeing the field well," Thomas said.
Thomas ran 16 times for 58 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown in the second quarter in which he bulled up the middle, extending his massive frame and pushing the ball over the goal line.
"He's a quality, quality quarterback and he's tough, physically tough the way he runs the football and bounces off of people," Beamer said.
The Virginia Tech defense was impressive, limiting the Jackets' vaunted spread option to 129 rushing yards, 146 below their season average. The unit also came up with a crucial play midway through the fourth quarter when it stopped David Sims on a fourth-and-2 run.
But offensively, the Hokies were a one-man show.
Thomas was credited with 279 total yards, while the Hokies finished with 276 as a team. It was a statistical oddity that Thomas could only chuckle at when told in the postgame press conference.
"He's a great player and he was on tonight," said Georgia Tech linebacker Brandon Watts.
Or more precisely he was on again against the Yellow Jackets.
It was a 37-26 win in 2011 at Bobby Dodd Stadium where Thomas produced his most efficient game as a starter, throwing for 209 yards and three TDs and running for 70 yards and two more scores. His 265.0 passer rating that day was the last time that Thomas cracked 200 in that department.
A year later in Blacksburg, Thomas threw for 230 yards and two scores and orchestrated a game-winning drive in overtime as the Hokies won 20-17.
"It's fun to play against them and when it's fun to play against them, it's always making it easier on me," Thomas said.
Fun for Thomas, yet confounding for others. It's another performance that can't help but whet the appetites of a fan base that has been waiting in vein for the QB to do it on a consistent basis.
Thomas already has the Virginia Tech record for completions, surpassing Tyrod Taylor (495). He's now two yards shy of Taylor's passing yards mark of 7,017 and three from Bryan Randall's career TD record (48), plus total offense (Taylor's 9,213) is also within reach.
But Thomas is thinking of a legacy that's more than mere numbers. He wants it punctuated by an ACC championship.
"That's my goal," he said. "That's what I want to do."