1. Quarterback Logan Thomas said he’s planning on coming back to Virginia Tech for his senior season right now.
2. Both Bryan Stinespring and Thomas said they don’t really give a rip about what ESPN’s Todd McShay has to say about them and the Hokies’ offense.
3. The narrowing of the running back rotation has more to do with personnel groups than anything. All four should still be on the field in some capacity next week at Miami, although expect J.C. Coleman and Tony Gregory to get the majority of work.
Let’s go a little more in depth on all of those …
** Asked if this season affected his decision about entering the NFL Draft after this year, Thomas said it hadn’t and that he had always leaned toward coming back. (This is news to me. The last time I remember it being brought up was at the ACC media days, when Thomas said he would revisit it after the season.)
Here’s what Thomas said Saturday night: ”I’ve always told everybody that I’m planning on coming back for my last one. So there’s no change in that right now.”
Thomas’ numbers are actually on pace to match those from last year. If the Hokies play 13 games this year, the quarterback would finish with 3,103 passing yards and 21 touchdowns, which would eclipse his figures from last season. But Thomas hasn’t been as sharp, matching his interception total (10) from last year in only eight games.
He doesn’t think all the interceptions are on him. Some were on one-on-one situations, others on tipped passes. He estimated that four were completely on him.
“I’m always critical of myself,” he said. “I expect perfection, just like most everybody does. … But at the same time, you can’t live in the past. You’ve got to move forward. And that’s what makes a good quarterback, being able to move forward with what you do. You’ve just got to let the last play go behind you, because if it’s an interception, the very next play could be a 50-yard pass and there it is right there behind you already.
“You’ve got to be able to move to the next, and after I threw the pick-six last week, I guess I came out and played a pretty good rest of the game.”
Thomas thinks he’s improved his game “leaps and bounds” across the board, while admitting that the stats probably don’t show that.
“Last year you go back and look at my games, and I’m throwing the ball off-balance, side-armed and Jarrett [Boykin] and Danny [Coale] are making great catches,” he said. “I feel much more improved in reading the defense, stepping up in the pocket and delivering the ball. Last year I was ready to tuck it and run halfway through my read and this year I’ll go through them all. If taking a sack happens, it happens. But that’s just how you improve as a quarterback. And you don’t see really any quarterbacks in the NFL tucking and running every other play, every other dropback. So as a quarterback, that’s where you need to progress.”
** Stinespring bristled at McShay’s comments last week about the Hokies’ offensive scheme being “out-dated by 10 to 15 years.”
The remarks by the ESPN commentator touched a nerve with a section of the Hokies fan base, falling in line with what those critical of the offensive play-calling have been saying for some time. But Stinespring, like Frank Beamer, who contended on his radio show that McShay makes controversial comments like that to stay on TV, isn’t concerning himself with it.
“I don’t really care what Todd McShay has to say,” Stinespring said. “That doesn’t benefit me one way or another what Todd McShay has to say. I don’t recall him being here at practice. I don’t recall him being at a game. What he says, that’s his opinion.
“I’m not sure what his job is. I don’t know that I’ve ever been privy to pay attention to what his job is. But what his job is certainly has no bearing on what my job is all about and what we do here at Virginia Tech.”
Thomas had similar thoughts about what McShay had to say about his draft stock.
“You hear it, but what are you going to do about it?” Thomas said. “I don’t really care, personally. He’s just a guy on the outside looking in.”
Virginia Tech made tweaks in the offseason to update and diversify its offensive scheme, adding more of a hurry-up element, more motioning and the Pistol formation, all of which Stinespring said he feels good about the team running, even if things have not gone completely to plan this year.
“I think we’ve been a constant work in progress, but I feel comfortable in everything we’re doing,” he said. “And I think our players do. … We haven’t been consistent with what we’ve done. That sounds like a broken record, but I think these guys would concur. When we’re on point and we’re doing the things that we’re capable of doing, then I think we’re capable of success. They know that and we know that.”
** The paring down of the running back rotation doesn’t sound as drastic as Frank made it out to be Monday.
Running backs coach Shane Beamer said the running backs snaps have already been narrowed. Shane said Coleman and Gregory played about 85 percent of the snaps the last two games. Coleman got 45 plays at Clemson and Gregory 28, with Michael Holmes and Martin Scales getting about five apiece. That’s the direction Tech is going.
“I think what [Frank] was alluding to and what we want to do is be specific about who’s in there with what personnel grouping,” Shane said.
Shane said it has more to do with narrowing reps at practice. For instance, Scales won’t be on the field when Tech has a three wide receiver set. Similarly, when the Hokies use two tight ends and a fullback, it’ll be either Holmes or Scales on the field for short-yardage situations. So players who won’t be in those personnel packages in games don’t need those reps at practice.
“Do we want to narrow it down? Yes,” Shane said. “Do I anticipate Michael, Martin, J.C. and Tony being all in the game at some point Thursday night? I still do. We’re not shelving those guys.”
Shane said he’s got a good feel for how to keep guys in a rhythm, even though the running backs’ numbers didn’t turn out great at Clemson. Coleman gets the start, with Gregory coming in on the second or third series and the two rotating after that, coming out situationally for Holmes and Scales.
Here are a few more odds and ends from Saturday night …
- Shane said he felt comfortable with Holmes getting the fourth-down carry early in the game against Clemson, even though it got stuffed. Holmes and Scales had been rotating in that short-yardage package, and Holmes had run tough on a third-down play right before that. The blocking didn’t help the play’s cause. “We had a breakdown in a blocking assignment,” Shane said. “It wasn’t the back that was in there. We had a breakdown up front on that one.”
- South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore‘s gruesome leg injury was tough for Shane to take. He was the Gamecocks’ recruiting coordinator in 2010, when Lattimore signed with South Carolina. “He’s as team-oriented as you can get,” Shane said. “Tough. Never about him. Awful deal. Great kid, though.”
- The bye week helped a few injured players get rested up. Stinespring said it was good for both left guard David Wang (knee/ankle) and center/guard Caleb Farris (ankle). Wang played against Clemson but was still limited. Farris has missed the last two games but was in a blue, limited jersey Saturday night, getting first-team reps at center. “I’ve actually been excited about what he’s been able to do,” Stinespring said. “Again, he’s not 100 percent, but I think it shows a tremendous commitment on his part. It shows how hard he’s been working to this point. We certainly need him in there.”
- Everybody thought the bye provided a good break. The players started practice again Thursday after just doing film review on Monday and getting Tuesday and Wednesday off. “You’re never going to be 100 percent midway through the season,” Thomas said, “but to get back to about 90, 95 percent of feeling good about yourself and being able to move and not being able to have the aches and pains every day [is good].” Said Shane: “I think there’s a little bit more pep in their step.”
- The ACC Coastal standings got more muddled Saturday. Duke got hammered at Florida State, bringing the Blue Devils back to the pack. That puts Duke, ineligible North Carolina and Miami in first place with matching 3-2 records. Virginia Tech is next at 2-2 in ACC play. “Coach Beamer, he always reminds us that things are in our hands and that if we win out the rest of our games that we’d be able to go to the ACC championship game,” Coleman said. “So everybody’s aware.”
- What would winning the division title in a down year like this do for the team? “It would be big,” Coleman said. “Everybody has already counted us out because we’ve had a tough year and we got off to a rough start. But it would just be big for us. Definitely to go out there and win the ACC championship, it’d be almost like a dream story for this year, because it’s tough.”