Fauber: Pressure to perform again on Thomas

Remember when a few NFL draft experts considered Logan Thomas a top-five quarterback prospect before his junior season at Virginia Tech last fall? I certainly do.

And I also remember all of the criticism such experts received from virtually everyone who was not a Hokie supporter for making such an absurd claim. The experts cited Thomas’ strong throwing arm, his Roethlisberger-esque physique and tremendous upside as reasons to love Thomas. Critics countered with his poor accuracy and questionable decision-making.

As a Hokie fan, I of course sided with the former, loving Thomas’ NFL potential more and more with each little tidbit of information that draft experts threw at us. I willfully ignored the flaws, choosing to believe that his accuracy problems could be easily fixed, and better decision-making comes with experience, right?

Last season was to be the true test of Thomas’ ability. With an inexperienced group of receivers, no clear standout at running back and a new offensive line, Virginia Tech’s offense would literally revolve around Thomas and his ability to make plays.

The question became whether or not Thomas could repeat what he did in his sophomore season, only this time without the benefit of throwing to the most successful group of wide receivers in the school’s history. As we found out, no, he couldn’t.

Thomas was inconsistent, he looked lost, and he even appeared overwhelmed at times. His issues with accuracy, no longer able to hide behind the mask of highly skilled receivers, were suddenly glaring. Most of his passes were too low, thrown at the feet of his intended target. Some were too high. Rarely were they perfectly placed.

It got to the point where Thomas seemed to lose confidence in himself, and in turn, the Virginia Tech fan base lost confidence in Thomas.

At the end of the season, as Thomas was debating whether or not to declare for the NFL draft, I couldn’t help but think that the Hokies might be better off if he did decide to go pro.

I have since begun to think more rationally as the brutal disappointment of last season has worn off, and it’s probably a good thing that Thomas is returning for his senior season given the complete lack of depth behind him at the moment.

And it’s not as if Thomas’ 2012 campaign was a total dud. He did still break his own school record for total yardage in a season with 3,500 yards (2,976 passing, 524 rushing), and his 27 total touchdowns was only three shy of his mark in 2011.

But I still can’t help but be concerned about what lies in store for Virginia Tech’s offense when the 2013 season kicks off in two months.

This team, at least offensively, looks eerily similar to team that took the field for the Hokies last season. A true frontrunner at running back still has yet to emerge, the offensive line will have to replace three starters and the wide receiving corps is even greener than it was last season.

That means it the success or failure of Virginia Tech’s offense will rely solely on Logan Thomas, again.

But there is a slim ray of hope. Head coach Frank Beamer finally made some long over-due changes to his offensive coaching staff, adding new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, line coach Jeff Grimes and receivers coach Aaron Moorehead.

Maybe Loeffler, who has worked with the likes of Tom Brady, Brian Griese, Chad Henne and Tim Tebow, can fix the fundamental flaws that have plagued Thomas so far in his college career.

The horrendous showing by Thomas and the rest of the first-team offense at the annual spring game a few months ago did little to raise my hopes, however, as the Hokies’ first-team offense managed just one touchdown against the first-team defense, and Thomas, though he passed for 214 yards on 16 of 29 passing, threw three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.

Part of me wants to believe that Logan Thomas will rebound this season and put to rest any doubts about his ability as a quarterback. But my gut tells me he just isn’t the guy that can carry an entire offense on his back, and that isn’t good news for us Hokie fans this season.

All I can do is hope that Thomas proves me wrong. Again.

Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or bfauber@nvdaily.com