Since Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas scored five total touchdowns and completed 23 of 25 passes for 310 yards in the Hokies’ thrilling 38-35 victory over Miami last Saturday, we’ve learned a couple facts on just how impressive the performance was when put into context with the history of Virginia Tech football.
As the school noted Saturday night, Thomas’s completion percentage (92) is the highest for a quarterback during Coach Frank Beamer’s 25-year tenure. Thomas also became just the second signal-caller in school history to have more touchdown passes (3) than incompletions (2) – some guy named Michael Vick did it twice in 1999.
But on Monday when he met with reporters for the first time since Saturday night, play-caller and quarterbacks coach Mike O’Cain declared Thomas’s performance the “best overall from a pass completion standpoint” of any quarterback he has ever coached. Keep in mind, O’Cain has been coaching in college ranks since 1977.
“He did not make one mistake in the passing game in terms of where he should throw the ball,” O’Cain said. “That may be the first time I’ve ever had a quarterback do that completely. He went right where he should have been.”
O’Cain said the only comparable performance he has been a part of came in 1992 when he was at North Carolina State and quarterback Terry Jordan went 23 of 25 for 361 yards in a 27-20 win over North Carolina.
“You remember those,” O’Cain said. “You don’t come across those very often.”
O’Cain said Thomas’s best throws on Saturday were the 60-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jarrett Boykin early in the fourth quarter, as well as two third-down conversions on the Hokies’ first possession of the game – one to Boykin and another to tight end Chris Drager.
“Those three balls were thrown about as good as you can throw them,” said O’Cain, who credited the Hokies’ early third-down conversions with helping him get in a play-calling rhythm. “Those are not easy throws. Just overall, the way he threw the ball, he was crisp. He had confidence. He was in a rhythm. You get that way sometimes, and when you do it, seems like everything goes right.”
Thomas actually graded out at 89 percent, which isn’t a season high for him. O’Cain explained that was the result of his decision-making in the read option. A couple times he should have thrown a bubble screen instead of handing the ball off to running back David Wilson.
Then again, it was Thomas’s prowess running the read option that proved to be the difference in the game Saturday. On fourth and one with less than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter, Thomas faked a handoff to Wilson and sprinted untouched through the middle of the line for the game-winning 19-yard touchdown run.
After the game, Beamer said O’Cain had originally dialed up a short pass for that play, but the team called a timeout after O’Cain saw something he didn’t like with Miami’s defensive alignment. O’Cain joked Monday, “I couldn’t find a short pass I liked,” and explained the situation further.
“It wasn’t really anything I saw. It was more of a gut feeling than anything,” he said. “We talked about a lot of different things, as you’d expect in that situation. And I think the bottom line came down to having confidence in our offensive line and also having confidence in a big quarterback that’s gonna get you a yard and a half. Never in my wildest dreams did you think it was gonna go for a touchdown. All I wanted to get was two yards and give us a chance to snap the ball again.”
Thomas’s run culminated a pressure-packed 77-yard touchdown drive that began with less than three minutes on the clock, the second time Virginia Tech scored a touchdown during the game using its hurry-up offense.
You may remember during last year’s come-from-behind 41-30 victory at North Carolina State, the Hokies went on a game-winning 76-yard drive that ended with Tyrod Taylor finding Boykin for a dramatic 39-yard touchdown catch with 1:27 remaining in the fourth quarter. From that point on – or more accurately, until the Orange Bowl – the Hokies offense became a juggernaut.
Will this latest memorable win have the same effect? O’Cain hopes so.
“Hopefully it’ll give us some momentum,” O’Cain said. “I think as an offensive group, I won’t say we’re just kind of waiting. But as you go through a game and we had shot ourselves in the foot several times, particularly in the red zone – and we even did it one more time on Saturday. You hope a frustration doesn’t set in, that, ‘Here we go again.’ It’s good to get that one to now give you that little boost of momentum going into this one.”