New Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas began spring practice by writing down a list of goals he hoped to accomplish before the Hokies parted ways until August. Thomas wanted to attain a better grasp of the playbook, gain the trust of his teammates and coaches, and assert himself as the leader of the offense.
So after Virginia Tech’s final mini-scrimmage of the spring Wednesday night — in which Thomas had another strong outing by completing 11 of 17 passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns — he and quarterbacks coach Mike O’Cain declared the spring a success heading into Saturday’s spring game.
“I guess Saturday will be the showing of what happened this spring, but right now, all my goals are complete so far. I’ve been focused and concentrated in every practice so far and haven’t really had a bad one,” Thomas said. “I missed some big plays down the field, just missed a couple yards here and there [Wednesday], but overall it went well. I went to the right spots and that’s all they’re asking for right now.”
O’Cain concurred about the lack of deep completions, but also said Thomas is “farther along than I thought he’d be at this point in time.”
For the spring, Thomas has completed 40 of 70 passes for 612 yards, 4 touchdowns and 1 interception. All that’s left is to put those skills on display for the masses on Saturday.
You’ll remember his experience in last year’s spring game was a memorable one for all the wrong reasons. Thomas was under the weather, and joked Wednesday about the groans he heard from the Lane Stadium crowd when he lost his lunch in the middle of the field.
“I never get sick. That’s the first time that’s ever happened. That was weird,” Thomas said. “I’m not nervous at all. Just ready to go, ready to show what I’ve got to the fans. I’m feeling pretty comfortable, understanding everything and knowing what I need to do now. I think everybody in the offense is feeling comfortable with me also.”
While Thomas has locked up the starting quarterback job, the race to be his backup seems to be heating up. Last week, O’Cain said there was no doubt redshirt junior Ju-Ju Clayton was Virginia Tech’s No. 2 quarterback, but redshirt freshman Mark Leal has made things interesting with two-consecutive strong scrimmages.
On Wednesday, Leal completed 6 of 8 passes for 73 yards and a touchdown. That followed up his performance in last Friday’s full scrimmage when he went 5 of 9 for 132 yards and touchdown.
Clayton, meanwhile, went just 2 of 7 Wednesday and threw his third interception of the the spring. In three scrimmages thus far, Clayton is14 of 32 for 98 yards. . . .
After stating his desire to compete for the starting punting job, wide receiver Danny Coale got his first live action punting balls on Wednesday and didn’t disappoint.
He averaged 39.5 yards on two punts, including a long of 42 yards. Redshirt freshman Ethan Keyserling had the long punt of the evening (46 yards) but averaged just more than 38 yards per kick. Scott Demler also had a 39 yard punt.
Afterwards, Coach Frank Beamer said that if his regular punters can’t develop a level of consistency, he’s leaning towards giving Coale the go-ahead to be the team’s punter next fall. Beamer figures Coale can work extensively on his punting this summer once spring practice ends.
Speaking of Coale, he also had two touchdowns (one rushing and one receiving) on offense Wednesday and finished with three catches for 40 yards. . . .
On defense, reserve linebacker Telvion Clark once again led the Hokies in tackles with five. But it was the performance of sophomore Derrick Hopkins, who by the coaches’ assessments has had a monster spring, that stood out once again.
Hopkins, known as a run stuffer, notched his third sack of the spring on Wednesday and has pretty much locked up the starting defensive tackle spot alongside his older brother Antoine this fall. Last week defensive line coach Charley Wiles even declared Derrick Hopkins unblockable.
“I’m a lot better than I was last year. I’m getting better at my pass rush,” said Hopkins. “Last year I didn’t really understand the defense.I was thinking too much. Now I know the plays so it’s like one motion.” . . .
Here are the full statistics from Wednesday’s mini-scrimmage:
PASSING — Thomas 11 of 17 for 113 yards and 2 TDs; Leal 6 of 8 for 73 yards and 1 TD; Clayton 2 of 7 for 7 yards and 1 INT.
RUSHING — Josh Oglesby 9-39, 2 TDs; James Hopper 7-10; Clayton 2-21; Coale 1-8, 1 TD; Daniel Dyer 2-4; Leal 2-1; Justin Ryals 1-0; Greg Gaddell 1-(-4); Thomas 4-(-8).
RECEIVING — Marcus Davis 4-21, 1 TD; Coale 3-40, 1 TD; Randall Dunn 3-33; D.J. Coles 2-26; Jarrett Boykin 2-23; Hopper 2-7; Eric Martin 1-17; E.L. Smiling 1-17; Chris Drager 1-9.
DEFENSIVE STANDOUTS — Clark 5 tackles, 1 TFL; Adeboye Aromire 4 tackles, 1 FF; Derek DiNardo 4 tackles; Tariq Edwards 3 tackles, 1 INT; Alonzo Tweedy 3 tackles, 1 QB hurry; Detrick Bonner 3 tackles; Kyle Fuller 1 tackle, 1 break-up; J.R. Collins 2 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 blocked FG; A. Hopkins 2 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 QB hurry; Zack McCray 1 tackle; 1 FF; D. Hopkins 2 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack; James Gayle 2 tackles, 1 sack.
KICKING — Cody Journell 1 for 2 (made 33, missed 30); Justin Myer 0 for 2 (missed 50, 55).
PUNTING — Keyserling 3-116; Coale 2-79; Demler 1-39.