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Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas celebrates a touchdown against Boston College during the first half of a college football game at Alumni Stadium in Boston on Saturday.
Sunday, November 3, 2013
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — After the obligatory postgame handshakes, as Logan Thomas made his way toward the tunnel at Alumni Stadium, he brought both hands to the top of his head.
He then pantomimed that he was pulling out his hair.
They all feel that way, almost certainly. Coach Frank Beamer. The assistants. The starters. The reserves. The ball boys. The fans.
But Thomas has more right to feel that way than anyone. He’s going to get blamed for this, almost exclusively, and he shouldn’t be.
Virginia Tech is not used to this kind of losing — the kind where most of the stats say the Hokies had their way, but the scoreboard screams otherwise.
It happened for the second straight week on Saturday, in Tech’s 34-27 loss at Boston College. Once again, the favored Hokies outgained their opponent by more than 150 yards — and lost.
Thomas will be the lightning rod for criticism again, and to a point that is fair. He’s the quarterback. His mistakes weren’t little ones. All four Tech turnovers — two fumbles, two picks — came at crippling times, and each had Thomas’ fingerprints on them, just like last week.
But fairness demands an acknowledgment that it’s rarely that simple.
Fairness requires us to recognize just how little help he has — a fact this game underscored.
Thomas swears he isn’t pressing, promises that he isn’t thinking about anybody else’s job other than his, but could you blame him if he were? He was the team’s leading passer, of course, but he was also Tech’s leading rusher. Again.
He got sacked six times. Perhaps he held the ball too long on one or two of them, but six? Poor blocking plays into that somewhere.
On the pick-six that gave Boston College its final lead, Thomas was running for his life. He says he was trying to throw the ball away — fire it at the feet of receiver Demitri Knowles — but got pushed during his release and had the ball sail on him for an easy interception.
Debate that account if you want. But don’t forget the guy in his face. The guy in his face was real, and he is important.
Because metaphorically, Thomas seems to take the field each week with an enormous guy in his face. He’s got no running game. He’s got questionable blocking. He’s got receivers who make great catches one minute and tip the ball to the other guys the next.
This game had a surplus of turning points, but the one that stood out to me came earlier than you might think. Midway through the third quarter, Thomas hit Cline on a well-designed pass on fourth-and-goal from the 1, giving Tech a 17-10 lead.
Tech’s defense then forced a three-and-out. BC punted it away to Tech, which started at its own 21-yard line with 4:53 left in the third.
The Hokies handed the ball off to Trey Edmunds, who picked up one yard.
Freeze it. Right there. Can you see him? The big, ugly, symbolic guy in Thomas’ face?
Put yourself in Thomas’ position. You’re ahead of a team you know you can beat, your defense is playing great … and there seems to be absolutely no chance you can move the chains by running it.
Name the last Tech quarterback who encountered that type of quandary.
All of Thomas’ recent predecessors — from the wildly popular Bryan Randall to the oft-criticized Sean Glennon — had the luxury of a running game. Their job from that point on would be easy: hand the ball off, watch the tailbacks and defense work and let the clock spin. They’d done their part, gotten the second-half lead. It would be time to call in the closer.
For Thomas, the bullpen door never opens. It’s always on him. So he dropped back to pass, didn’t see a lineman miss his block, and got clobbered from the back side. Fumble. Turnover. Loss. Criticism.
But hey, he gets it. He knows he’s the one who fumbled and the one who threw the picks. That’s what we’ll all remember.
“I’m usually frustrated after every game that we lose,” Thomas said. “But especially this one, just because I thought we had it in the bag. I made a bad play for the pick-6.
“I thought we had a great game plan coming in, and we did, and we executed very well other than the turnovers. That’s what hurts the most.”
Know what else hurts, though Thomas would never admit it? Help isn’t on the way. Tech goes to Miami next week. Keep an eye out for the big guy, lurking in the palms.
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