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Much was expected from Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas in 2012. He was coming off an excellent sophomore campaign, his first year as a starter, where he threw for 3,013 yards, 19 touchdowns and completed just under 60 percent of his passes.
The 2013 season couldn’t have gone much worse for Thomas or the Hokies. The Hokies won only seven games; their worst season in 20 years, and Thomas played a big part in that. His interceptions rose from 10 in 2011 to 16 in 2012. He completed only 51 percent of his passes in 2012 and his yards-per-attempt dropped to 6.94 from just under 8 in 2011.
All of that wasn’t just Thomas, though. The offensive line struggled all season, which led to an inconsistent running game. Thomas also lost the top two receivers in school history from the year before and his comfort level wasn’t quite the same with this year’s group.
Nonetheless, Thomas’ struggles didn’t keep him submitting his paperwork to the NFL Draft Advisory Committee before deciding to return to school. Many ask the question, why would he even consider departing to the NFL after such a tough season? Thomas was likely keeping his options open while the Hokies’ searched for a new offensive coordinator. He was never going to progress under the former offensive regime.
New offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler comes to Blacksburg from Auburn where he spent only one year. Loeffler does have a solid track record with quarterbacks and his introductory press conference seemed to indicate his No. 1 priority was developing a quarterback as soon as they step on campus. His coaching acumen will be put to the test immediately as Thomas has all the tools to be a terrific quarterback.
What should we expect from Thomas in 2013? Undoubtedly this coaching staff will place an emphasis on running the football and that would mean less running from Thomas. If Thomas is asked to run 15-20 times per game, it will slow his development as a passer and again this offense will be in trouble.
Thomas was frustrating last season in the sense that he would make two or three outstanding throws followed by several passes that were underthrown, overthrown or forced. He can make every throw on the field and at times has looked good in the deep passing game.
It is the intermediate passing game that has given Thomas the most trouble. He often looks as if he doesn’t know if he should put more velocity on the ball or get more air under it. That is correctable.
Head coach Frank Beamer was relieved Thomas decided to return to school for one more season. Not only does Beamer realize how good Thomas can be, he knows there is very little behind him, at least in terms of experience.
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The top backup, rising junior Mark Leal, has played very little. All of his pass attempts the past two years came late in games where the outcome had already been decided much earlier.
Leal isn’t the biggest guy at six-foot-one, 215-pounds, but he is an impressive athlete whose arm has gotten stronger each year on campus. Thomas is very durable but there is confidence Leal would play well if called upon. He will be in his fourth year on campus and his third being the primary backup.
Behind Leal, however, things are less clear. Trey Gresh, a junior walk-on, would be the Hokies’ third-team quarterback. Redshirt freshman Brendan Motley, a big and talented athlete, should enter the spring in the mix but there has been talk of Motley playing another position in order to get on the field.
The Hokies are expected to sign two quarterbacks in this year’s class: Bucky Hodges and Carlis Parker. Hodges is considered the more highly regarded of the two and many presume to be the next long-term quarterback for the Hokies.
At six-foot-five, 225-pounds, Hodges possesses size similar to Thomas and a very strong arm. He isn’t as fluid of an athlete as Thomas was coming out of high school but he did have more experience playing quarterback, though. He is by no means a polished product but he does have everything you look for in a quarterback.
Parker, from Statesville, N.C., actually enrolled at Virginia Tech in January. An impressive athlete, Parker may be in line for a position switch. He enters college at six-foot-four, 189-pounds and has very good speed. He could play quarterback but Hodges has a better overall skill-set for the position while Parker is the better athlete.
There won’t be a quarterback controversy in Blacksburg in 2013. It is Thomas’ job and the Hokies hope the new additions to the offensive coaching staff benefit him. If Thomas has a good senior season, the Hokies will be a very good team. The defense should be good enough to carry the team most weeks.
The Hokies will be breaking in as many as six or seven new starters on offense in 2013. Thomas will be expected to rebound from a disappointing junior season and his work with all of the young wide receivers this offseason will be critical to the Hokies’ success in 2013.
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