There’s been a lot of negativity about Logan Thomas’ performance against Georgia Tech this week. It wasn’t a great display, far from it. But neither is it worth the collective tutting among certain members of the draft community because he didn’t put up 400 yards and score multiple touchdowns like Geno Smith.
First of all, this was classic Virginia Tech. And by that, I mean lousy play calling at the start of a new season. It happened last year against Clemson (their first real test, and first defeat), against Boise State in week one the year after and Alabama in 2009. For some reason the Hokies are perennial slow starters before picking up speed as the year develops. The play calling has a large part to play.
In this one against Georgia Tech, they ran Logan Thomas in five of his first ten touches. He’s a decent runner, but he’s not Cam Newton. What’s more, he seems to be carrying a bit of extra weight this year and while he’s still a good athlete – he’s better off using his legs to extend plays rather than running the ball more than the back in the opening quarter. I get the impression he was never completely settled, always keeping the option to run in the back of his mind and taking an edge off his passing accuracy. He seemed to be a fraction off for most of the night. There wasn’t much flow to get at here – a lot of short stuff but not enough plays to stretch Georgia Tech. It was all so predictable and unchallenging. The fact Thomas wasn’t playing a great game didn’t help, but neither was he helped by a stodgy game plan.
Alarm bells rang across the country as he short-armed another short pass. It was a bit reactionary. He actually didn’t make any glaring errors, didn’t turn the ball over once and still won the game. For a further example of the bad play calling – when Virginia Tech were driving to save the game with seconds left they called the same short pass to the left sideline for minimal gain. Even on third down. Thomas pulled them out of the water on fourth down and they got a field goal to go to over time.
He’s the kind of quarterback who naturally doesn’t take a ton of risks, he plays a solid game. He’s got the arm to make most middle-range throws look easy. Fast forward to 3:39 in the video and you see a nice short drop, recognising the coverage and firing a dart that only his receiver can catch over the middle. It’s a good, solid completion made easy. His first touchdown pass shows excellent touch and placement. The pass at 7:38 is a very good throw fit into a tight window. His second touchdown is a nice play downfield, although the coverage isn’t great from GT. The only really poor decision I see on the video is the pass at 4:51 which is a head scratcher. Is the receiver running the wrong route? It kind of looks like he just throws an ugly ball and he almost gets picked off.
Considering how negative people have been about this game, it’s still a 230-yard performance with two touchdowns and no turnovers with a further 40-yards rushing. He led his team from a losing position to a crucial victory against a tough conference opponent. If we’re saying that’s not good enough – and Thomas will play better – it’s testament to his potential.
Not every quarterback is going to show the technical quality of Mark Barkley or the mass-production of the Dana Holgorsen-coached Geno Smith. On Monday Thomas was compared to a cluster of quarterbacks none of which really fit (Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick). He has the same size and physical potential as Ben Roethlisberger (he’s not elusive like Big Ben) but his game is very similar to Josh Freeman. That might not excite people much these days, but there’s a place in the NFL for a starting quarterback with that skill set. He won’t make many mistakes, he’ll take what he’s given and he has the arm and mobility to be a difference maker.
For what it’s worth I don’t think he’ll declare for the 2013 draft unless he’s lights out. He didn’t attend the Manning Passing Academy this year and has another year to run at VT. I think the likelihood is he’ll stick around before entering the 2014 draft.