Virginia Tech quarterbacks coach Mike O’Cain kept starter Logan Thomas for a few extra minutes after one of their position group meetings last week. O’Cain talked with the quarterback about the criticism Thomas had been facing following the Hokies' 23-3 loss to Clemson.
Thomas conceded that he had heard some of the negativity, but said it had been harder on his mom than it was on him.
“He was getting a lot of grief, there were a lot of naysayers out there, doubting whether he should be playing quarterback,” O’Cain said. “I have no idea where that comes from or what starts that. For two weeks in a row he had completed 65 percent of his passes and now all of a sudden -- and he completed 55 against Clemson, that’s no slouch. But that’s life as a quarterback. He and I talked about that.
“I said just understand that No. 1, you have tremendous confidence in yourself and we have tremendous confidence in you. Go out and play. I think he felt the same way after the Clemson game. I don’t think he felt like he played his best, but he didn’t understand where all of the negativity was coming from. I said that’s just part of it. I don’t know where it’s coming from, either.”
It’s gone as quickly as it came.
Thomas had a stunning performance last week in the Hokies’ 38-35 win over Miami, throwing more touchdown passes (three) than incompletions (two). One of those incompletions was a dropped pass, the other a throw-away. His 92 percent completion rate was the highest of any quarterback under coach Frank Beamer in 301 games. Oh, and he also rushed for a career-high two scores, including the game-winner.
“It was the best performance I’ve seen,” O’Cain said.
The task now is to build upon it. According to Thomas and those within the program, there was no major revelation, no discovery during the week of practice leading up to the Miami game that resulted in the historic performance. It was simply a matter of Thomas making good decisions and getting help from his receivers and good protection from the offensive line. It was a complete offensive performance the Hokies are hoping will carry over to Saturday’s game at Wake Forest. O’Cain, Beamer and Thomas – they all have seen gradual progress each week, and none of them were ever in panic mode.
That was for the fans.
“My parents and my grandparents raised me to let everything roll off my back,” Thomas said. “That’s the way I let things go. I just looked forward to the next day, next week, and I think that really helped me get through and get past all of the doubt.”
Beamer said Thomas was better against Miami with his decisions of where to go with the ball. Against Clemson, Thomas completed 15 of 27 passes for 125 yards and an interception. He was also sacked four times in that game.
“I think he tried to drop a couple balls off instead of trying to get it down the field, and that's a good play, it's a completion and you're dumping it off to some dangerous guys,” Beamer said of the Miami game. “I think where to go with the ball; I think he's better this week. When you know where to go with it, and get there on time your accuracy is better so I think that played into it. He'll learn every week I promise you; he's just a guy that'll keep improving.”
The improvement was harder to see from the outside.
“I’ve always had the confidence I can play like that every week,” Thomas said. “I did get some doubt after the Clemson game, but hopefully it was erased this past weekend.”
O’Cain said Thomas’ performance was something the entire offense can build on, not just their quarterback.
“From an offensive standpoint, you have a tendency sometimes for some frustration to set in,” O’Cain said. “We needed a game like that to get that out, to say 'yes we can do it' and put all of the negative stuff out of your brain and go out and play.”
“I think it’s going to help us in our confidence department tremendously,” Thomas said. “And it was also, when things got tight, we didn’t just fall apart, we stepped it up to another level and were able to go and outperform and get the win.”
Don’t worry, Hokies, Thomas is not the “I-told-you-so” type.
“I’m just thankful I had the game I did,” he said.
So are Virginia Tech fans. All of them.