They saw the big-armed quarterback who can also make plays with his feet. But they also saw some wayward throws, particularly on the interceptions, that have held him back this year.
The junior, who thinks he’s taken a step forward in his progression despite a step back in stats, thinks it’s been a so-so-season.
“I would say it’s middle of the road,” he said Tuesday. “I’m not excited with how I’ve been playing or I’m not hating how I’ve been playing. Interceptions are up, but like I’ve said before, it’s because of a number of different things. They’re not all my fault. So people look at interceptions and say automatically I had a worse year.
“But you know, in some parts I think I’m a lot better than I was last year. Just being able to handle the entire offense, making checks, you know, being more of a part of the running game. There’s a lot of good things I’m doing well.”
Those picks are hard to ignore, though. Thomas’ 14 interceptions are tied for second most in the country and are four more than he threw all of last year in 14 games. He tries to put the criticism that comes with them out of mind, though.
“Same old, same old,” Thomas said. “I don’t pay attention to you guys much at all. Y’all are going to talk, y’all are going to do your job and I’m going to do my job. That’s just how I am. You know, if some of these people say stuff to my face — they sit there behind computers, cell phones, whatever — maybe we’d have a problem. But I don’t think anybody is going to say something to my face.”
He’s still focused on improving as he heads into his senior year in one area in particular.
“You see things game to game,” he said. “And I guess my reoccurring thing from game-to-game is when I do rollout or throw on the run, that I haven’t been very accurate with it and that’s something I need to get better at.”
Here are some more notes and quotes from Tuesday’s press conference …
- Trainer Mike Goforth and team doctor Mark Rogers gave an update on safety Michael Cole, who suffered a scary-looking neck injury against Florida State last week. Goforth said the redshirt freshman is improving every day and continuing to go through tests. They’ve ruled him out this week but didn’t want to go any further than that. “I think it’s premature to even talk about two weeks from now, to be honest with you,” Goforth said. “We’ve just have to let it play out and see how he feels. … We’re looking at this as a positive thing to this point. There’s nothing that sets off an alarm right now.”
- Rogers said Cole has suffered stingers in his career before, but never anything this severe. The numb feeling he had in his upper extremities on the field is resolved. “His nerve function is good,” Rogers said. “So I think at this point, there’s not a nerve injury, per se. So that’s good.”
- The staff is following up with strength tests for his neck. Much of that will be gained back through rehab. “Mike is a very motivated guy,” Goforth said. “He wanted to know his practice status yesterday. That’s his frame of mind right now. For him, Friday was business as usual. He got up and went to class and came and got his treatment, and so on. So he’s thinking in that direction. The better he feels, the more we can do with him. He’s just getting comfortable right now. But I like where his mind is, definitely.”
- Cornerback Antone Exum said the Cole play reminded him of former Rutgers player Eric LeGrand, who was partially paralyzed after trying to make a tackle on a kickoff several years ago. Like LeGrand, Cole wasn’t moving on the field. “Then I saw the replay of how he led with his head so I thought like, ‘Man, this might be a really serious neck injury,’ so I was just scared for him,” Exum said. “I said a prayer for him and was just trying to hope for the best.”
- Beamer reiterated that freshman Desmond Frye would step into Cole‘s role in the nickel package. “He’s got a lot of ability,” Beamer said. “I expect he’s going to get some playing time.”
- Interesting Beamer quote on the Marcus Davis blocking video flap from yesterday. Beamer was asked about the video but gave an indirect answer that, if you read between the lines, might give you an idea the route Virginia Tech will go with Davis (emphasis mine): “I think each and every week you evaluate people on their performance, the consistency of their performance. And I can tell you that’s the way it’s always been in our program. And the people that give us the consistency in their performance, that’s who is going to be on the field.”
- Tech’s wide receiver blocking has taken a hit since the end of last season. Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale were great blockers, but both graduated. Then D.J. Coles, by far the best blocker of the receivers, was lost for the season with a knee injury after the opener. “If you can get it started, then your wide receiver blocking is critical for the long play,” Beamer said. “If you’ve got a 5-yard gain, it can turn into a 25-yard gain. So there’s no question the importance of your wide receiver blocking.”
- Thomas said he hadn’t seen the video. Asked about the wide receiver blocking, he said this: “You know, I don’t really pay attention to the receivers’ jobs as blockers. I just pay attention to my job throwing the ball and handing it off.”
- Beamer, as you’d expect, didn’t touch a question about Boston College coach Frank Spaziani‘s job status. “I’m worried about Virginia Tech. I think we need to play better, more consistent,” he said. “Coach Spaziani, I wouldn’t want to comment about his situation other than I think he’s a good coach, a good person, like him a lot. And that’s the way I feel about him.” In four years under Spaziani, BC’s win total has gone from eight to seven to four to two this year.
- Exum said the team remains confident despite its sub-.500 record. “It’s not something you can really ignore because we haven’t been 4-6 around here in a long time, but I knew we feel like we’re probably the best 4-6 team out there,” he said. ‘Our record doesn’t indicate how good of a team this is. We still have talent and guys that can get it done, but for some reason, the ball just hasn’t been bouncing our way this year and we’ve just to focus on finishing these last two games and getting to a bowl game.” For a point of reference, Pittsburgh, which beat the Hokies 35-17 in September, is also 4-6.
- Thomas agreed. “We’re confident because we’ve done so many things well and we haven’t put it all together,” he said. “I guess that’s what it’s all about: Putting it all together. Everybody has seen flashes of our offense being almost unstoppable and then you’ve seen times where we can’t even move the ball. That’s just the consistency thing. That’s what makes it encouraging, because when we are playing well, we’re playing hard, physical, intense and we are extremely tough to stop.”
- Before the presser, Exum and safety Kyshoen Jarrett were listening to a song Exum put together last night on a program on his laptop. It’s called “Revis.” He said he’d release it on Twitter only if Tech makes a bowl game.