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Posted at 12:25 PM ET, 10/04/2011

Measuring the progress of Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas through five games


First-year quarterback Logan Thomas was “very down” after the Hokies’ loss to Clemson on Saturday. (John McDonnell - THE WASHINGTON POST)
As he sat in front of reporters after Virginia Tech’s 23-3 loss to Clemson on Saturday night, redshirt sophomore quarterback Logan Thomas looked and sounded like a first-year starter for the first time all year. He slouched in his chair, his glassy eyes staring into space. He never cracked a smile and even answered some questions curtly.

Quarterbacks coach and play-caller Mike O’Cain said Thomas was “very down” Saturday. After all, this was his first loss as a starter since a 50-46 defeat in the 2008 Virginia AA Division 3 championship game. But in that contest, he threw for 393 yards and four touchdowns, significantly better than his 125-yard, one-interception showing against Clemson.

When Thomas watched the game film on Monday with O’Cain, the coach even joked with him, “It’s sort of the first time you’ve really played big-time college football.”

Thomas is now five games into his starting career, and judging from some of the comments I’ve received in recent days, Virginia Tech fans are a bit underwhelmed with his performance thus far. But according to the coaches, Thomas is making the right decisions – although he’s hasn’t always made accurate throws – and O’Cain said once again Monday he’s been pleased with how Thomas has progressed.

“We had hiccups with Tyrod [Taylor] last year as a fourth year senior,” O’Cain said. “That’s why I tried to be very careful. Everyone was wanting to crown him the next whoever and that’s not right, that’s not fair. Now do we expect big things? Absolutely. I expect him to make every throw, [but] I know in my mind he won’t make every throw.”

O’Cain is referencing the popular preseason assumption around the country that because Thomas was 6 feet 6 and 254 pounds, he had a chance to be this year’s version of Cam Newton. But a better metric to judge Thomas is how he has stacked up through his first five starts compared with former Virginia Tech quarterbacks and his own contemporaries from the 2008 recruiting class.

So here’s a look at the statistics of six former Hokies signal-callers as well as eight quarterbacks from the recruiting class of 2008. All were rated as four- to five-star prospects (like Thomas) by Rivals.com:

Logan Thomas (2011; 4-1 record): 75 of 132 (56.8 percent), 886 yards, 4 TDs, 5 INTs; 39 rushes for 130 yards, 1 TD.

Former Virginia Tech quarterbacks

Michael Vick (1999; 5-0): 37 of 60 (61.7 percent) 803 yards, 6 TDs, 3 INTs; 46 rushes for 209 yards, 4 TDs.

Marcus Vick (2005-06; 5-0): 62 of 91 (68.1 percent), 878 yards, 9 TDs, 1 INT; 49 rushes for 131 yards, 2 TDs.

Bryan Randall (2002; 5-0): 39 of 59 (66.1 percent) 527 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs; 51 rushes for 132 yards, 2 TDs.

Sean Glennon (2006-07; 4-1): 78 of 136 (57.4 percent), 1,116 yards, 7 TDs, 3 INTs; 19 rushes for minus-47 yards.

Tyrod Taylor (2007, 5-0): 46 of 84 (54.7 percent), 578 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT; 46 rushes for 204 yards, 2 TDs,

Jim Druckenmiller (1995; 3-2): 67 of 136 (49.3 percent), 928 yards, 3 TDs, 6 INTs; 35 rushes for 46 yards.

Other four- and five-star quarterback prospects from the 2008 recruiting class (according to Rivals.com) in their first five career starts:

Tajh Boyd, Clemson (2011, 5-0): 103 of 168 (61.3 percent), 1,459 yards, 14 TDs, 2 INTs; 53 rushes for 83 yards, 2 TDs.

Matt Barkley, USC (2009; 5-0): 72 of 136 (52.9 percent), 1,338 yards, 5 TDs, 3 INTs; 19 rushes for minus-22 yards.

AJ McCarron, Alabama (2011, 5-0): 75 of 120 (62.5 percent), 919 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INTs; 13 rushes for minus-10 yards, 1 TD.

Bryn Renner, North Carolina (2011, 4-1): 87 of 115 (75.7 percent), 1,127 yards, 11 TDs, 6 INTs; 24 rushes, 8 yards, 1 TD.

Nathan Scheelhause, Illinois (2010, 3-2): 58 of 98 (59.2 percent), 640 yards, 4 TDs, 4 INTs; 59 rushes for 277 yards, 2 TDs.

Garrett Gilbert, Texas (2010, 3-2): 114 of 180 (63.3 percent), 1,151, 4 TDs, 4 INTs; 24 rushes for 14 yards.

Aaron Murray, Georgia (2010, 1-4): 80 of 132 (60.6 percent), 1,100 yards, 8 TDs, 3 INTs; 38 rushes for 81 yards, 2 TDs.

Richard Brehaut, UCLA (2010, 1-4): 80 of 139 (57.6 percent), 877 yards, 5 TDs, 5 INTs; 42 rushes for 74 yards, 3 TDs.

So out of the seven Virginia Tech quarterbacks listed, Thomas ranks fifth in completion percentage, third in passing yards, tied for fourth in total touchdowns, sixth in interceptions and fifth in rushing yards.

Among the nine quarterbacks from the 2008 recruiting class, Thomas ranks seventh in completion percentage, sixth in passing yards, tied for sixth in total touchdowns and interceptions, and second in rushing yards.

So Thomas is essentially middle of the pack statistically when compared with his predecessors at Virginia Tech. But he’s probably behind the curve a bit in comparison with some of the other top quarterbacks his age.

And just for fun, here’s Newton’s statistics through five games last year, seeing as how he’s become the standard-bearer for how well an elite first-year starting quarterback can perform:

Cam Newton, Auburn (2010, 5-0): 57 of 87 (65.5 percent), 928 yards, 12 TDs, 4 INTs; 76 rushes for 474 yards, 5 TDs

By Mark Giannotto  |  12:25 PM ET, 10/04/2011

 
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