Few players have more to prove this season than Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas. Once considered a first-round talent, the Hokies signal-caller dropped a stink bomb last season and now has to show he is truly worth the hype.
But Virginia Tech fans aren't concerned about the NFL. They want Thomas to drastically improve so the team can have a realistic shot of winning the ACC. After all, we have seen in the past what an elite quarterback can mean for a program.
Thomas has everything you look for from the position and has a ton of upside to become the quarterback scouts see in the future. While last season may indicate different, there really isn't much he needs to fix in order to take that next step.
It all just comes down to the basics.
Here is what Thomas needs to fix to improve this season.
The most obvious part of his game that needs to improve is his decision making. As a senior quarterback, Thomas needs to be the leader of the team and stop making so many careless decisions with the ball. He has thrown 26 combined interceptions the last two seasons, including 16 last year. There were 12 ACC quarterbacks who threw fewer passes to the other team, and this is part of his game that must turn around if anything.
Although interceptions can sometimes be blamed on dropped passes and receivers not doing their job, this wasn't the case for Thomas. He had six games of at least two interceptions, which includes three turnovers against Pittsburgh, which was arguably the worst game of the season for Thomas.
Here you see a ball extremely overthrown directly to the Pittsburgh safety for an interception. Even if the pass wasn't thrown over three receivers' heads, there wasn't anybody open to begin with. This pass had no business being thrown, regardless. Thomas should have just taken the sack and lived to see another play.
In the same game against Pittsburgh, he didn't see the safety coming over, which resulted in an easy pass deflection and nearly another interception. Although this pass was underthrown, the safety was still going to make an impact on the play. There were better options available, and Thomas should have taken advantage of them.
On that play, the running back was available for an easy first down, as he had plenty of green grass ahead of him. It was fourth down and the game was out of reach, but avoiding the urge to hit the home run and take what the defense gives you is part of playing the position.
If Thomas is able to cut his interception total from last year in half, Virginia Tech will win a lot more games than it did a year ago.
Along with the interceptions, Thomas struggled mightily with accuracy issues. When you are a starting quarterback who is completing only 51.3 percent of your passes, there's a problem. This percentage must improve at least 10 percent for Thomas to be considered an elite quarterback, earn respect from NFL scouts and help the Hokies achieve team goals.
How can this percentage get to where it needs to be?
Well, Thomas needs to fix his footwork. When throwing an accurate football, you should step forward with the opposite foot of your throwing arm in front. That foot should be pointing toward your throwing target, while your hips, chest and shoulders all move in a fluid motion when releasing the ball.
Here you see poor footwork from Thomas, as his feet are nearly parallel to one another, and his body is all out of whack.
Usually the ball ends up sailing on you when this happens, and that is exactly what happened to Thomas. He had an open receiver down field for at least a 15-yard gain, but instead it was an incomplete pass.
This happened all of last season, as Thomas would struggle with proper footwork. Sometimes he wouldn't set his feet, throw off his back foot or he would just wing it like you saw above. All are examples of poor quarterback play, result in inaccurate throws and can play a role in a high interception total.
Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler has been working on this issue with Thomas during the offseason. Hopefully for his sake all the hard work will pay off and Thomas will finally blossom into the signal-caller many expected him to become.