The loss was so demoralizing that, for the first time since becoming the team’s starting quarterback last season, Thomas declined to speak with reporters.
“I didn’t really have anything to say to you guys,” Thomas told reporters over the weekend, when he broke his short-lived silence.
“Y’all are going to ask the same question you ask every single game after a loss. And it was going to be the same answers. I think y’all could have just said, ‘Logan Thomas said,’ and exactly what I’ve said every game before . . .
“I feel like the couple things I that I did wrong really influenced the outcome of the game. That’s why I took it so hard.”
Indeed, Thomas’s mistakes came at the most inopportune times. He threw an interception in the red zone, failing to identify Miami’s Ladarious Gunter in coverage, on Virginia Tech’s opening drive of the game. He also fumbled on the 1-yard line when center Caleb Farris flinched before the snap, was off-target on several other passes and ended the night with his 12th interception of the season.
It just added to a season that hasn’t gone as planned for both Thomas and the Hokies. After coming in with some lofty hype from NFL scouts, Thomas has seen his play regress because of a lackluster supporting cast and his own accuracy issues.
It culminated in last Thursday’s performance, in which he completed just 19 of 37 passes for 199 yards, ruining a night that saw him rush for a career-high 124 yards. The Hokies have scored just 29 points the past two games despite gaining more than 400 yards both times.
“I felt like I could have done a lot more,” Thomas said. “I felt like I left too many plays on the field. I know I did.”
But Coach Frank Beamer worries about Thomas putting too much pressure on himself, especially this week when Virginia Tech takes on No. 8 Florida State. The Seminoles feature senior E.J. Manuel, a likely first-round pick in next year’s NFL draft, and the battle between both signal-callers will hold the spotlight all night.
Beamer even met with Thomas for a few minutes in the days after the Miami setback, delivering a simple message about how hard his quarterback took the loss.
“I don’t want him to put too much of the load on himself,” Beamer said. “I think the quarterback is always going to be a key point. I think sometimes he feels like he needs to make some plays and so forth, and I think it’s just one of those things where you’ve got to play your game. And he’s certainly playing good enough. I’ve really admired how he’s played.
“He wants to win so badly and it hurts him when he doesn’t. And that’s the kind of guy you appreciate.”
The last time the Hokies went against Manuel, he was thrust into the starting role when Christian Ponder missed the 2010 ACC championship game. He finished 23 of 31 for 288 yards and a touchdown that game, but also had two interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown by linebacker Jeron Gouveia-Winslow. Virginia Tech moved on to the Orange Bowl with a 44-33 victory.
The Hokies recruited Manuel when he was coming out of Bayside High in Virginia Beach, but Beamer indicated this week that Manuel didn’t really consider Virginia Tech then because of the presence of Tyrod Taylor on the roster.
But Beamer sees a more seasoned quarterback on film these days. Manuel ranks second in the nation behind only Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein in terms of passer rating (174.03). He’s completing 70 percent of his passes this year and has 16 touchdown passes and just four interceptions.
“Experience is a wonderful thing,” Beamer said. “He’s been around, he’s played a lot, he certainly knows the offense and really is very good at executing the offense, very good at throwing. And then he’s always a threat to run. An athletic guy.”
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