So it was somewhat understandable why at Monday’s scrimmage at Lane Stadium, Virginia Tech’s first full-blown one of the spring, the offense looked disjointed at times, producing few highlights.
Still, the Hokies’ coaches think they’ve seen progress this spring out of their offensive unit.
“It was the good, the bad, the ugly,” new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said. “Almost identical to every first scrimmage that I’ve been around. There’s times when we did some things that I was really impressed with. There were some times that we looked like it was practice 6, practice 7, whatever we’re on. …
“We’re slowly but surely chugging away and trying to teach these guys to go in the right direction.”
How few highlights were there? The offense didn’t score a touchdown in the 101-play scrimmage, although the coaches halted several drives once they got near the goal line.
All eyes were certainly on quarterback Logan Thomas, whose mechanics have been an oft-discussed offseason topic. The rising senior was 7-for-17 for 164 yards, completing passes of 63 and 46 yards to receivers Demitri Knowles and D.J. Coles.
He was also picked off twice, once by safety Der’Woun Greene on a lofted pass near the end zone (a new play the Hokies’ coaches had thrown at the offense) and once by Kyle Fuller near the end.
But after a season of erratic throws, both high and low, it was Thomas’ mechanics and throwing motion that drew the coaching staff’s attention.
“I think you all can tell the ball was coming out of my hand well,” Thomas said. “I’m putting the ball where I want it, and I’m putting it there with a lot of velocity as well.”
Loeffler, whose biggest task this offseason was putting Thomas’ throwing motion back together, said the difference between the quarterback from the first practice to now is “night and day.”
“He’s improved in these six days as fast as anyone I’ve ever been around,” Loeffler said.
What specifically has changed? Primarily, Thomas’ body position. Loeffler wants Thomas more upright in the pocket, what he calls a “phone-booth thrower.” Additionally, Loeffler’s stressing that Thomas get his body in a position where it’s directed at the receiver, a habit he got away from last year.
Tech hasn’t tweaked his upper body motion much, other than to relax his hands from gripping the ball too tight. The result? His throws aren’t sailing high or dipping low.
“Everything else was just putting your hip and shoulder and foot in right position to throw the ball,” Thomas said.
“I think his release is quicker,” Loeffler said. “He’s getting the ball out of his hands. He’s upright in the pocket. Are we there yet with him? No. But we’re making strides.”
Loeffler went back and re-watched all of Thomas’ throws from 2012. He’s told Thomas what he’s seen and wants to correct, but he’s going to wait until the end of spring to show the quarterback a side-by-side comparison of last fall and this spring.
“To see how crazy and drastic of a difference it was,” Thomas said.
Through eight spring practices — and with seven to go — Loeffler has been impressed with how Thomas has absorbed instruction.
“That’s the one cool thing about him is you tell him to do it once and he can normally do it,” Loeffler said. “That’s a trait of a really good player is those guys that you can instruct one or two times and they can get it. …
“He’s not there yet, but he’s figuring it out.”