Logan Thomas may not have demonstrated that he is the top quarterback prospect based on his bottom line stats from his performance versus top ranked Alabama. However, upon further examination of the offensive snaps for Virginia Tech, it can be seen that Thomas showed improved ball placement and maintained his pocket awareness and overall toughness. While his decision making was slightly suspect at times, his choices in the pass game were certainly influence by a very good Alabama defense, as well as an anemic, albeit young, receiving corps. From the 25 attempts I watched from Thomas, he managed 5 completions for 60 yards and an interception for a touchdown thrown early in the second quarter.
While these are stats look far from a number one draft pick, what the stats do not tell you is that of those 25 pass attempts, 8 were drops and the pick six was the result of a timid route run by senior wideout DJ Coles. DJ was running a crossing route, where Thomas tried to thread the needle under the approaching safety Vinnie Sunseri. Logan threw the ball very low, with the intention that Coles would slide underneath the safety at the first down yard marker. Instead, Coles stopped running his route and jumped out of the way of the fast closing Sunseri, who made the pick. While I do think that the throw was very risky, had Coles finished the route, the placement of the ball would have made Coles the only person who could have caught it.
Here are a breakdown of each of the eight drops:
Q1, 11:47, VT 41, 2nd and 10– Deep ball left, to Demitri Knowles #80, ball thrown for 36 yards, hits Knowles on his outside arm. Knowles had some separation from the corner, Deion Belue.
Q1, 11:37, VT 41, 3rd and 10—Short ball middle, to Demitri Knowles, 7 yard throw.
Q1, 7:10, VT 21, 3rd and 4 – Pass middle at LOS, to Demitri Knowles, ball hits Knowles in the numbers.
Q2, 13:10, VT 25, 3rd and 6 – Throw right, to TE. 5 yard throw. Ball is low and the TE slides for the ball under Alabama defenders, ball actually hits TE in hands when Announcer called the throw a “dirt ball.”
Q3, 9:00, VT 17, 3rd and 11 – Pass deep left to Demitri Knowles. 48 yard throw. Ball hits Knowles on his chest.
Q4, 11:58, VT 34, 1st and 10—Pass middle to DJ Coles #18, 3 yard throw. Receiver looks for hit instead of looking for ball. As a result, the ball goes right through the receivers hands. Thomas makes the throw under heavy pressure and delivers ball on target.
Q4, 11:55, VT 34, 2nd and 10 – Pass right to DJ Coles #18, 12 yard throw. Ball was thrown with good placement, but dropped.
Q4, 11:50, VT 34, 3rd and 10 – Pass to LOS to Jay Edmunds #14. Thomas breaks free from defender, throws a well-placed ball to the check down.
I will not attempt to project hypothetical numbers to postulate Thomas’s would-be performance, as it would complete defeat the purpose of this piece. However, it can be said that Thomas had a very hard time sustaining drives due to the drops. With all this being said, I could not go into detail about how good of decisions Thomas made, but I did see a few plays where the receivers had their routes severely altered by the physical Alabama defensive backs. Additionally, Logan did have a few misses including a high, uncatchable ball on a bootleg pass, as well as a delay of game penalty in the redzone.
A high note of the night was the play of the Virginia Tech offensive line which featured true freshman left tackle Jonathan McLaughlin. While not without its faults, the line blocked well in the run game, and provided Thomas with a decent pocket against the stout Alabama pass rush.
Without a doubt, this was a tough matchup for Logan Thomas and the Virginia Tech offense. The Alabama secondary called the shots all night and for the most part, Thomas had to take what was given to him. However, from what was given to him, Thomas demonstrated that he has the football IQ and arm talent to put the ball where only his guy can catch it. Furthermore, Thomas demonstrated great pocket awareness and mobility. The most apparent attribute that Logan Thomas conveyed vs. Alabama was his leadership. Despite numerous drops and miscues from his receiving corps, Thomas remained level headed and calm, while trying to correct his receivers, and more importantly, not losing trust in them.
Finally, Thomas is running a new offense, under new coordinator Scot Loeffler, who held the same position with Auburn last year. The offense utilizes a lot of deep routes and read option plays to highlight Thomas’s arm and run ability. Thomas looked very comfortable running the read option and had several opportunities to throw deep. Although the stat line did not look good against Alabama’s defense, I would expect to see Thomas perform better on paper in the coming weeks against West Carolina, East Carolina, and Marshall, respectively. Thomas’s next big test comes against ACC rival North Carolina on October 5th.
Logan Thomas remains my top quarterback for the 2014 NFL draft.
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