I was rather disappointed after the Boston College loss, probably more than I should've been. The Hokies have been inconsistent all season, but up until the last two Saturdays, have been on the right side of the coin in close games. The offense isn't good enough to overcome mistakes, special teams have been all over the place, and the defense's job isn't to score points. The offense couldn't overcome four turnovers despite churning out 446 yards, most of which came through the passing game. That was Tech's most output against an ACC team since Duke in 2012 (525 yards).
Yesterday, the most scrutinized and analyzed player was once again Logan Thomas. He made some great throws, like this strike to Coles.
However, there were also inaccurate tosses and head scratchers, like the over the middle desperation toss under pressure that resulted in the pick six.
Of Tech's 446 yards, Logan accounted for 391 through the air and 38 on the ground; that's 96.2% of the Hokies offense. Since he was hired, and leading up into the season, Loeffler stated and reiterated he was committed to running the football. However, since ACC play began his play calling has shown he is more committed to Logan Thomas. In Tech's first four (non-conference) games Trey Edmunds averaged 19.5 touches, in their last 5 his carries have dropped to 9.4 per. I know injuries, game scenarios, etc... factor in, but as far as I know Trey was healthy yesterday, and Tech opted not to grind it out with him. Meanwhile over those two same spans, Logan's carries increased from 9 to 17. Edmunds has averaged 3.58 yards a carry, while Logan has gained 2.45 yards a clip which jumps to 3.9 after negative sack yards are removed.
The run-pass ratio has been balanced (328 rushes to 304 passes this season), although against the Eagles, Tech ran 29 times and threw 41. However, the rushing attack, which has favored Thomas making the decision on the inverted veer, veer, and read option hasn't been overly productive. Those extra quarterback runs result in repeated unnecessary hits, with very little yardage to show. A quarterback that can hammer through a defensive line is rare, and Logan is a weapon. However, Logan being utilized as a changeup, in space, where he is on an island running down hill one on one with smaller safeties is a much more dangerous weapon. Edmunds could be the guy to pound the line of scrimmage, and unlike any other back on the roster, he has shown the ability to break a big run on occasion. He showed off his athleticism in space running after the catch on the screen plays.
While re-watching I counted 15 plays where Logan appeared to be reading a defender, then making a decision whether to keep or hand it off. Those plays averaged out 2.67 yards; the big gainer was a 13-yard rush by Thomas (on 2nd-and-30). Drop the high and low rush at both ends the average drops to 2.15 yards. There are a myriad of reasons for why these plays aren't working, but the bottom line is they aren't working.
The following were the only two predetermined running plays I noted. Both were zone runs away from the tight end, like what Tech ran against Duke.
Trey trips cutting back on the first run, but there was a lane to bend back into. On the second run Jonathan McLaughlin and Sam Rogers each had excellent blocks to seal the left side and Edmunds gained an easy 5 yards.
Last week, French detailed the success the Hokies had with the zone against Duke. Considering all the time dedicated to them in spring and August, I don't understand why the zone plays are called so infrequently. They can't really be any less productive.
"In a perfect world, would I like to be 50-50? Absolutely. But if we're not 50-50, we're going to play to our strengths. If we can throw it 60 times a game, we'll throw it 60 times a game, if that's our strength. If not, we'll run the ball 60 times. We're going to play to our strengths, but we're always going to have the mentality that we're going to run it."
-- Does that include running the quarterback? Yes, to a degree. Loeffler acknowledges that is a part of the college game and can stress a defense, but he's acutely aware of the kind of physical toll it can take on a quarterback, even someone of Thomas' size.
"If you ask them to run it every time, they take a beating," he said. "And they take a beating enough if you decide not to run. They take an absolute beating and a beating and a beating. Let's suppose that we decide that we're not going to run. On Sunday, you wake up in the morning, regardless of what happened, and you can't move. And then on top of it, if you're asked to run it all the time, you wake up in the morning and you're in a coma. So we'll pick our spots."
With the way the season has unfolded, especially in ACC play, these statements made in March are now contradictory. Clearly Loeffler is playing to his strength, Logan Thomas. However, Thomas is being overused in the ground game.
There are 4 games left, and I don't expect much to change. It's November now and the Hokies are what they are. Tech will have a chance to win all 4 remaining games, the defense is that good. Thomas will make some jaw dropping and face palming throws. However, if the former outnumbers the latter the Hokies might have a late run to Charlotte in them.