Virginia Tech Football: Logan Thomas' Struggles Put Offense in Jeopardy

Bryan ManningFeatured ColumnistApril 20, 2013

Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas returned to school to avoid days like Saturday.

Thomas, in his third year as the Hokies' starting quarterback, had an abysmal performance in the team's annual spring game. On the day, Thomas completed 16-of-29 passes for 214 yards. However, three of his passes were intercepted, two for touchdowns.

Thomas was high on several throws throughout the game. With less than 10 seconds remaining, Thomas missed tight end Zack McCray down the seam for an easy touchdown. The throw to McCray was symbolic of Thomas' day.

The question facing new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler; should Hokie fans be worried?

Keep in mind, this is a spring game and nothing is official. If this were a real game, then yes, there should be concerns. 

It is important to note that Thomas is working within a new offense. He has to learn new terminology, new plays while breaking in younger players. It is not an easy task.

But remember, Thomas is a senior and the leader of the offense. He is expected to help lift the play of younger teammates. Was there a time today where anyone felt Thomas put the offense on his back?

The concern with Thomas is he picked up where he left off in 2012. Thomas had 16 interceptions last season, tied for second-most in all of college football.

His issue last season was throwing the ball high. In Saturday's game, Thomas' third interception was on a crossing route to senior D.J. Coles. Thomas threw the ball well over Coles' head right into the hands of a defensive back for an easy interception.

Many of the Hokies' problems in 2012 were tied to the offensive line. Head coach Frank Beamer could never get his traditionally strong running game going because there was no consistency up front. That is a big reason he overhauled the offensive coaching staff.

Jeff Grimes, the new offensive line coach, was brought in to fix this unit. To Grimes' credit, he said he was going to play the five best players, regardless of what position they played in prior years. 

Unfortunately for Thomas, he has to play behind a unit that is looking to establish themselves. The good thing for Thomas in Saturday's spring game; he got to wear a yellow, no-contact jersey.

With so many new players and coaches around him, Beamer is counting heavily on Thomas. Surely Thomas understands that any success in 2013 will be dependent upon him and his play.

Thomas carried the offense in 2012. He led the Hokies in all major rushing categories. That pressure is likely what led to his struggles in the passing game.

Loeffler's job is to develop Thomas as a passer while easing the burden on him running the football. Yes, Thomas is a great athlete for a man of his size, but he shouldn't be carrying the football 10 or more times per game.

No one with reasonable expectations thought the offense would move the ball efficiently against what is expected to be a top-10 defense in 2013. However, the offensive line didn't look much different than last year's version. And that is a major concern.

How can Thomas get better if he has no running game?

The three major contenders to be the top running back, Trey Edmunds, J.C. Coleman, and Michael Holmes, will all be fine. Just don't expect them to reach their full potential until the offensive line settles on its top five.

An encouraging sign for Thomas on Saturday was the rapport he developed with redshirt freshman receiver Joshua Stanford. Stanford had three catches for 86 yards, including a big 57-yarder to put the Hokies in scoring position on the first drive.

Look for Loeffler to feature the tight ends prominently this season as well. Starter Ryan Malleck had three catches for 45 yards and a score, while Zack McCray finished with 65 yards on four receptions.

Remember, folks, it is just the spring game. This isn't time to panic for fans. It gives the coaches some film of younger players in live action.

However, for Thomas, he must perform better if the Hokies are to rebound from their worst season in 20 years.