Russell Athletic Bowl 2012: Offensive Stars Who Will Explode for Virginia Tech

Steven CookFeatured Columnist IVDecember 28, 2012

BLACKSBURG, VA - NOVEMBER 24:  Quarterback Logan Thomas #3 of the Virginia Tech Hokies throws the ball as defensive end Jake Snyder #90 of the Virginia Cavaliers chases at Lane Stadium on November 24, 2012 in Blacksburg, Virginia.  (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
Geoff Burke/Getty Images

The Virginia Tech offense hasn't been all it was cracked up to be in 2012, but that will change with one last chance to prove their worth in the Russell Athletic Bowl against Rutgers.

Both teams featured in Friday night's bowl game have strong defenses but haven't been able to get it going offensively as of late. The Hokies (6-6, 4-4 ACC) haven't been able to put up 30 or more points since their early October showdown against Duke.

With many Hokies playing for their NFL Draft stock and the whole nation watching, they'll experience unheralded success against the Scarlet Knights. Their coaching staff has been hard at work to fix their offensive struggles over the past month and it will show.

Let's take a look at which Virginia Tech offensive playmakers will shine bright in the Russell Athletic Bowl.


Logan Thomas, QB

Despite an average—and that's being kind—season through the air, Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas still has a chance to finish strong and declare for April's draft. That will be all the motivation he needs to carve up the Rutgers secondary.

Although Thomas' passing numbers have regressed this season (17 TD, 14 INT, 52.6 percent completion rate), he's still one of the more NFL-ready quarterbacks in this year's class and could find himself coming off the board on the draft's first day.

Thomas' dual-threat ability is highlighted by his 6'6", 260-pound frame that makes him very tough to bring down. He draws parallels to Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, who has certainly experienced success in the NFL. 

Since Thomas is just a junior, he could end up sticking around for his senior season. But after showing weaknesses in 2012, he likely wants to get out while he still can and a strong Russell Athletic Bowl appearance is the only way he can do that.


Marcus Davis, WR

Hokies wideout Marcus Davis may not enjoy the blocking side of football, but he's ridiculously talented at the catching part. He'll show up Rutgers with that ability on Friday.

The 6'4", 232-pound Davis possesses the size to not only out-leap defenders, but he also is nearly impossible to bring down because he has a tremendous ability to fight through tackles.

Davis is the Hokies' leading receiver on the year with 47 catches for 891 yards. But the fact that he has just five touchdowns shows he's been under-utilized in the red zone. 

There's no doubting Davis will have the size advantage over Rutgers defenders in this one, and Thomas needs to realize that and show that he trusts Davis to come down with a jump-ball in the end zone.


J.C. Coleman, RB

J.C. Coleman is just a freshman, but he has already asserted himself as the Hokies' leading rusher not named Logan Thomas. He's the best they've got out of the backfield.

Coleman has carried the ball well for a freshman and is a Maurice Jones-Drew type of player at 5'8", 192 pounds. But other than his 183-yard performance against Duke earlier in the season, he's been held in check with less than 50 rushing yards in each game. 

It's easy to say Coleman will be hungry to have another big game against Rutgers to prove to the coaching staff and fanbase that he's the primary ball-carrier going forward to 2013 and beyond. 

If he wants the starting running back job to be his moving forward, he'll need to show up the Scarlet Knights defense. And he will.