BLACKSBURG, Va. — On Sept. 26, 1992, North Carolina State traveled to Kenan Stadium to face rival North Carolina. The Wolfpack's quarterbacks coach that day, Mike O'Cain, still hasn't forgotten the magic he witnessed. Quarterback Terry Jordan completed 23 of 25 passes for 361 yards as N.C. State won 27-20.
"You remember those," said O'Cain, now Virginia Tech's quarterbacks coach. "You don't come across those very often."
O'Cain recalled Jordan's game this week as he rated Logan Thomas' performance in Saturday's 38-35 win over Miami "the best" of any quarterback he has ever coached — and O'Cain has coached quarterbacks since he became a full-time assistant in 1978.
Thomas was 23 of 25 for 310 yards, three passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns. What separates him from Jordan is that Thomas accounted for five touchdowns, and Jordan lost two fumbles. Thomas also is a sophomore first-year starter, and Jordan was a senior who threw for 1,732 yards combined in 1990 and 1991.
O'Cain, who calls Tech's plays, has been pleased with Thomas all season, but even he probably didn't expect Thomas to set a Tech record for best completion percentage in coach Frank Beamer's 24-plus seasons (92 percent).
"He did not make one mistake in the passing game, in terms of where he should throw the football," O'Cain said. "And that may be the first time I've ever had a quarterback do that completely."
Thomas said last week that he wanted to play better than he did in a 23-3 loss to Clemson when he was 15 of 27 for 125 yards and an interception, though the offense's sluggish performance wasn't entirely his fault as his receivers didn't give him enough help. Still, Thomas said after the Miami game, "I wasn't expecting this much better."
The Hokies this week play at surging Wake Forest (4-1, 3-0 ACC), which has committed to a 3-4 defense that relies on varying blitzes.
"They try to confuse you, and they do a pretty good job of it," Thomas said. "They go between an odd and an even front (3-4 and a 4-3). They blitz the safeties, blitz the corners."
Wake last season ranked 100th nationally in yards allowed per game (429.6) and gave up 605 in a 52-21 loss at Tech — the sixth-most yards the Hokies have ever gained. This season, Wake is 26th nationally (324.6 yards per game), though the Demon Deacons gave up 424 and 425 yards to North Carolina State and Florida State, respectively, but won both games, 34-27 and 35-30.
Thomas this week reacted almost as modestly to his near-flawless game as Jordan did to his in 1992. When asked after the 1992 game to assess his performance, Jordan said, "Fair. A good day would have been 25 of 25. I'm not anywhere near where I want to be."
Jordan went on to help N.C. State finish 9-3-1. He completed 64.1 percent of his passes that season for 1,963 yards, nine touchdowns and eight interceptions.
O'Cain is optimistic Thomas will build on the Miami win and have a similar year. But he and Thomas know how rare games like Saturday are.
"I know it's definitely going to be hard to have that same type of performance," Thomas said. "You want to ... but the likeliness of it happening is not as high."
• Read Darryl Slater's Virginia Tech blog at vteffect.com.