Virginia Tech Football: Logan Thomas' Hokie Legacy

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Virginia Tech Football: Logan Thomas' Hokie Legacy
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Logan Thomas will likely be remembered for his failings more than his successes.

Logan Thomas might be the most heavily criticized player in Virginia Tech football’s history, but his legacy as a Hokie is actually much more nuanced than the average fan might realize.

The redshirt senior quarterback certainly hasn’t been perfect; if anything, his failings have held the team back in some key games over the course of the last two years.

But all of that obscures the fact that Thomas has been one of Tech’s most successful offensive players in the program’s history and has led the team to some huge wins against the team’s biggest rivals.

The quarterback’s inconsistency has come to define his legacy in many ways, but there’s still a lot that Thomas will be remembered for besides his failings.

 

Offensive Focal Point

Michael Vick is the quarterback from Virginia Tech that the average fan has heard of, but Thomas is actually the one that owns all the school’s records.

He leads the program in total offense with 10,267 yards, touchdown passes with 53 and most passes completed with 690. 

Whether it’s Vick, Bryan Randall or Tyrod Taylor, he’s smashed the records of almost every prominent quarterback to attend Virginia Tech.

But the question becomes how he amassed these gaudy totals while still frustrating the fanbase with such frequency.

It’s a combination of factors; not only did Thomas have the benefit of starting all three years during a time period that the quarterback’s role increased throughout college football, but he also became the focal point of the offense when he was on the field.

For better or worse, the offensive coaching staff came to lean on Thomas. Whether it was through the air or on the ground, both former offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring and current OC Scot Loeffler depended on Thomas more than anyone else.

In 2011, Thomas’ first year as a starter, the quarterback was working with established receivers like Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale and a star running back in David Wilson.

Consequently, he put up some big numbers, thanks to the quality of the talent around him and Stinespring’s reliance on him. 

He was in on 544 plays, the 23rd-highest total in the nation. 

In 2012, the staff relied even more heavily on Thomas. Without the talented offensive weapons that defined the unit in 2011, Thomas was counted on to perform on 602 different plays—ninth highest in the nation.

Although Thomas benefitted from some more experience on offense this season, he still bore the brunt of the offensive duties. His number was called 550 different times in 2013, the 11th-highest rate in the country.

For some perspective, Loeffler relied on the senior more than the Texas A&M Aggies called on Johnny Manziel or the Oregon Ducks looked to Marcus Mariota.

Loeffler talked in the offseason about not putting quite so much weight on Thomas’ broad shoulders, but he ultimately turned to his quarterback once more.

Thomas’ skills as a runner made him invaluable to the offense, and although sometimes he didn’t come through the way fans expected, he contributed a huge amount to the offense.

 

Rivalry Winner

Thomas has quarterbacked the Hokies to 26 wins as a starter but seemed to save his biggest games for the team’s fiercest rivals.

There’s no question that the signal-caller’s failures against lesser teams like the Pittsburgh Panthers in 2012 or the Boston College Eagles and Maryland Terrapins this season deserve to be mentioned. 

But when the team was counting on him in a big rivalry, he often came through. 

His 2011 game against the Miami Hurricanes will likely go down as his finest moment at Tech, and as the video shows, he was truly brilliant on the final drive of the game.

He was 23 of 25 for 310 yards and three touchdowns through the air and ran for two scores on the ground. Wilson and Boykin both had 100-yard games in the contest, but the team fed off Thomas when it needed him most.

The quarterback was similarly dominant this year against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, as this highlight video from the game attests.

He completed 21 of 25 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown, as well as leading the team in rushing with 58 yards and a score on the ground.

Loeffler used him as a battering ram in the second half, calling for eight different designed runs to help the Hokies kill the clock.

Overall, Thomas was excellent against the team’s rivals in the ACC. He was 2-1 against Miami, 2-0 against Georgia Tech and 2-1 against the North Carolina Tar Heels.

And, perhaps most importantly to Tech fans, Thomas was a perfect 3-0 against the Virginia Cavaliers. 

The Cavs might not have been the staunchest opponents over the last three years, but Thomas helped the Hokies beat them each and every time. 

The senior was particularly significant to Tech’s narrow 17-14 victory over UVa last year. On a day when neither offense could get anything going, Thomas ground out 29 carries for 89 rushing yards and a touchdown in addition to his 129 passing yards.

It hasn’t always been pretty, but Tech’s coaches have pretty frequently leaned on Thomas when they’ve needed him the most, and he normally delivers.

 

Maddening Inconsistency

Yet for all of Thomas’ good qualities, the passer could be simply infuriating at times.

Accuracy was always an issue for the quarterback and it plagued him throughout his career. He completed 59.8 percent of his passes in his stellar sophomore campaign, dropped to 51.3 percent in 2012 and improved slightly to 57.3 percent this year. 

Thomas’ inaccuracy was largely caused by inconsistent mechanics and his failure to ever seem completely comfortable in the pocket.

He never played with a dominant offensive line, and only had one year with true offensive weapons, but there’s still no excusing the way Thomas’ bad decisions constantly hamstrung the offense. 

This year’s game against Boston College provided the perfect example of the way Thomas could simultaneously be the offense’s greatest strength and most glaring weakness.

This throw in the third quarter to receiver Josh Stanford shows all the things he could do well. 

He avoids pressure and nails Stanford with a perfectly placed bullet, allowing him to take the catch and run for 69 yards.

But just a few minutes later, he threw one of the worst passes of his entire career. 

Thomas manages to throw off his back foot into triple coverage, leading to a touchdown that gave the Eagles a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

All Thomas needed to do was take a sack or throw the ball away, but he tried to be the hero and it ended up costing the Hokies dearly. 

This type of game will probably be Thomas’ legacy among most fans; he had some undeniable moments of greatness, but they were often overshadowed by his baffling mistakes.

He did a lot of good for Virginia Tech’s legacy, and his durability over his stretch as a starter likely won’t ever be matched. He started 39 straight games at quarterback, a school record, without suffering a single major injury. 

But there will always be the footnote that he wasn’t able to accomplish as much as his predecessors at the position.

His inconsistency stopped him from reaching the heights that Vick and Taylor achieved, and while there will be plenty of good things to remember about Logan Thomas, it’s likely that his failures will define his legacy at Virginia Tech.

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