BLACKSBURG, Va. — Maybe it was because he didn't look or sound like a first-year starting quarterback. He towers over almost everybody he meets, his 6-foot-6, 254-pound body quickly giving away that he is not a typical 20-year-old. He has a deep voice and speaks with mature sureness, in thoughtful, complete sentences.
That all really masked, to some observers of Virginia Tech's football team, the fact that Logan Thomas still was a completely unproven player who had thrown exactly one significant pass in his college career — albeit a successful one, a 24-yard completion on third and 16 in last year's win at Miami.
Though his coaches expected him to perform well this season, and still expect it, he probably wasn't going to thrive like senior Tyrod Taylor did last season for Tech. Thomas might be a big quarterback, like a certain Heisman Trophy winner from Auburn last year, but those comparisons were so foolish that they're barely worth acknowledging.
Through five games - most recently a 23-3 loss Saturday to Clemson — Thomas is experiencing the mixed early season results typical of a first-year starting quarterback. And that's exactly what his coaches figured would happen.
"That's why I tried to be very careful," said quarterbacks coach and play caller Mike O'Cain. "Everybody was wanting to crown him the next whoever. That's not right. That's not fair. Now, do we expect big things? Absolutely. I expect him to make every throw. I know in my mind that he won't make every throw. So as coaches, you try to keep it in perspective and not let the hype and the overexpectations get out of range."
Thomas is completing 56.8 percent of his passes for 177.2 yards per game, four touchdowns and five interceptions. Against Clemson, he was 15 of 27 for 125 yards and an interception as the Hokies gained just 258 yards.
On Sunday and Monday, he and O'Cain watched video of the Clemson game and moved on to this week's critical home game against Miami. O'Cain noticed on the video about five times when Thomas' receivers botched a play by running an incorrect route. (Tech was without its No. 3 receiver, Marcus Davis, who played six snaps before aggravating his sprained right foot.)
"I think a couple throws that looked bad Saturday were because we had busted routes," O'Cain said. "Those things don't make a quarterback look very good. We just weren't as good in the passing game as we needed to be overall. I don't think Logan could have done a whole lot more."
O'Cain said Thomas had one missed read when he threw the ball where he shouldn't have, but there were several other opportunities for deep passes that he couldn't convert because his receivers didn't get past the defensive backs. Thomas doesn't make bad decisions and throws the ball to the right area of the field, but one of his main issues continues to be imprecise throws, O'Cain said.
"He's made very few poor decisions," O'Cain said. "Now, he's made some poor throws, but he's made good decisions. I don't think he's forced the ball yet into a situation where he shouldn't have thrown it."
After watching the video, Thomas thought it looked better than he initially thought it would. But he acknowledged, as O'Cain did, that he threw a high pass to Jarrett Boykin that bounced off Boykin's hand and was intercepted to end Tech's first drive. He also noticed that he needs to slow down with some of his throws.
"I can be a little bit more patient and wait," he said. "I was throwing things a little early when I could have waited and had another receiver that was open."
After the game, Thomas relaxed and talked at his apartment with family and friends who were in town for the game. "We just kind of had a good time and it kind of kept my mind off [the loss]," Thomas said.
His family taught him years ago about "letting things roll of your back," he said. That lesson is as important for him now as it's ever been, as he and the offense try to do their part in giving Tech a chance to defend its ACC championship.
"Of course there are going to be bumps in the road," he said. "And I guess now is one of those points that I think it shows the man, how he comes back from disappointment and how he produces from now on."
• Read Darryl Slater's Virginia Tech blog at vteffect.com