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Leaning on QB Logan Thomas’ arm could become the new normal for VT.
Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas attempted 26 passes in the second half Saturday.
MATT GENTRY | The Roanoke Times
Hokies receiver Willie Byrn will stay busy as long as opponents challenge the run.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
BLACKSBURG — Facing stacked fronts and finding little room to operate on the ground, Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas came to the sideline after the first drive of the third quarter in the East Carolina game last Saturday with one thought.
“Throw it,” he said.
“That’s all I said to coach, and he said the same thing back,” Thomas said. “And from then on I guess we threw the ball the majority of the time.”
Thomas threw 26 of his 43 passes in the second half against the Pirates, completing 17 of them for 158 of his 255 yards, with a 3-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Coles that proved to be the difference in Tech’s 15-10 victory.
It could be the new normal for the Hokies, with teams lining up to stop Trey Edmunds and the ground game, essentially daring Virginia Tech to beat them with the pass.
“I don’t think there’s a question,” head coach Frank Beamer said. “I think most people probably take that approach.”
East Carolina certainly took that gambit, dedicating itself to stopping the run after seeing the Hokies have their share of struggles through the air the first two weeks.
It worked. After Virginia Tech ran for 4.6 yards and 7.0 yards per carry against Alabama and Western Carolina, respectively, it found little room to run last Saturday, mustering only 53 rushing yards and a 1.6-yard average against the Pirates.
But Thomas, whose 5-for-26 stat line against Alabama is still fresh in peoples’ minds, did enough to keep the Hokies ahead, particularly on third down, when he was 10 of 18 and completed eight passes that resulted in first downs.
He thinks it’s helped that he has a growing comfort in the system of first-year coordinator Scot Loeffler, who stresses progressions far more than the previous staff.
That was evident on several of those third down plays, with Thomas hitting receiver Willie Byrn, often the third option, on crossing routes underneath the coverage.
“At first it was very different, just because I’d never seen it and never learned it and never had to do it before,” Thomas said of progressions. “And now the more I do it now, obviously the more comfortable I become. I’m very comfortable with it now. It’s just repetition, repetition, repetition.”
He and Loeffler, still only nine months and three games into their partnership, are starting to get on the same page mentally.
“I kind of knew what he was going to call,” Thomas said. “At one time, I got on the headset and I knew exactly what his thoughts were for the next possession. That’s how you’re supposed to understand each other.”
That’s not to say it’s a finished product by any means. Thomas has yet to hit the 60 percent mark passing in any game this year. His goal was 62 percent. And he has four interceptions through three games, putting in doubt whether his season-long goal of throwing five or fewer will even make it out of the nonconference portion of the schedule.
Largely due to the opener, Thomas and the Hokies still rank 112th out of 123 FBS teams nationally in passing efficiency.
But his comfort with a receiving corps that has had its share of drops has grown the past couple of weeks.
“I’m gaining confidence when they’re gaining 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 and I know they’re having fun, it kind of gives me a peace that if I put it out there then they’re going to do their best to make a play.”
Until that group consistently proves it can make opponents pay for selling out to stop the run, however, the Hokies expect to see plenty more eight-man fronts.
“I’m hopeful that we’re dangerous enough that you’ve got to think about it,” Beamer said.
Backup defensive lineman Corey Marshall will redshirt this year, Beamer said. The third-year player recently returned from a three-week disciplinary leave. He’ll still have two seasons to play starting next year. … Reserve linebacker Devin Vandyke tore an ACL in the Western Carolina game and will have season-ending surgery. The redshirt freshman will have a six- to eight-month rehab schedule and will miss the spring too.
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