Two weeks (!!!) until college football kicks off! In the past, we’ve limited these lists to just the top 25 players, but this season, we’re upping our game to 50. So just about every day until the season starts, there will be a new player profile up here as we count down to the top ACC player for 2013.
Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus “completely bulletproof” — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.
Yes, I watched Virginia Tech football last season, as hard as that may have been sometimes. And I noticed just how poorly Logan Thomas played the quarterback position in many of those contests. But as I mentioned over and over again last season while not necessarily making excuses for his poor play: it’s tough to say it was his fault. From 2011 to 2012, Thomas went from playing behind a veteran offensive line to an inexperienced one that lacked the size necessary to block the ACC’s elite pass-rushers. He also had a phenomenal running back in now-New York Giants starter David Wilson in 2011, versus absolutely nothing in terms of a ground game in 2012. Needless to say, based on this ranking, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt that things will get better.
And they pretty much have to, don’t they? Throwing 40 more passes in 2012, his completion percentage dropped by a full 8.5 points, touchdowns went down by one, and sacks and interceptions went up by eight and six, respectively. The Logan Thomas we watched in 2012 looked like the tight-end-turned-QB he actually is. But I do think he’s learned from the experience. Last year, Thomas suffered from a desire to do everything for the team — a behavior he’s likely to correct this fall. There were glimmers of the 2011 version of Thomas against Georgia Tech, Florida State (until late) and Boston College; we know he’s not gone for good. It’s just going to take some help to get him back to that level of production consistently.
It starts with a re-established running game, which means more production out of J.C. Coleman and Tony Gregory (among others). Tech’s always had a solid rushing attack, and it appears new OC Scott Loeffler gets that and wants to lean on it once again. It was a huge part of Thomas’s success in 2011, and if he regains that form, it will be because someone else is taking the punishment running the ball 20-25 times per game (at minimum). Additionally, the offensive line — while still in transition — has a lot more experience than last year’s edition, which should be a huge boost to both Thomas and the running backs. It was far too easy for defenders to get into the backfield last year; a message surely drilled home this offseason. Even if there’s minimal improvement from both the backs and line though, expect to see a much calmer, more collected Thomas this year. I’m not envisioning a complete return to form. But given how important he is to this offense, even meeting halfway should result in some great numbers this year.