How can Maryland neutralize Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas?

How can Maryland neutralize Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas?
November 14, 2013, 3:00 pm
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Edsall: 'Way too many turnovers, way too many mistakes'

COLLEGE PARK--Rewind to the fall of 2012 and the NFL draft scouts were glowing about Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas. Would he build on the success of his sophomore campaign and have a first-round worthy season as a junior?

He’s a dual-threat quarterback, they said, perfect for the emerging zone read offenses of the NFL. He has size, stature, and arm strength. But Thomas stumbled during his junior season and has had an up-and-down senior year, leading up to Saturday’s matchup against Maryland in Blacksburg.

But just because he hasn’t lived up to the expectations that followed his sophomore season doesn’t mean that he’s not perceived as a threat by the Terrapins leading into the weekend.

“You just look at their notes that they put out, he’s the leader in a lot of statistics for a quarterback,” Maryland head coach Randy Edsall told the media this week. “Big, strong, athletic, really good arm strength, can see over top of the line. He’s a guy that’s been very, very productive for them.

“Again, understands what they want to do offensively and where to go with the football. He presents a tremendous challenge for you.”

There have been the highlights for Thomas, like his 19-of-25 passing performance for 221 yards and two total touchdowns to help Virginia Tech beat Georgia Tech on Sept. 26.

But there have also been the lowlights, like when he threw four interceptions in a 13-10 home loss to Duke one month later on Oct. 26.

“We’re just trying to maintain Logan Thomas,” Maryland linebacker Marcus Whitfield said. “When we get back there [in the backfield], make the plays on him. He’s a pretty big guy, 6-6, 250, so take him down when we can.”

Taking him down might not be as easy to do as it is to say, as Maryland learned earlier in the season against Florida State and similarly sized quarterback Jameis Winston.

Winston had a sensational scramble to avoid a sack late in the Seminoles’ 63-0 blowout of Maryland on Oct. 5 that ultimately ended in a touchdown pass. Maryland hopes a repeat performance doesn't come on Saturday.

“Really just trying to contain the ball,” Whitfield said. “Whoever has the ball first, make sure they keep the ball in their hands and not try to get it out of their hands so quick.”

The key on Saturday for Maryland could be forcing turnovers, which the defense did well in the team’s 20-3 loss to Syracuse last weekend. The Terrapins forced two key Orange turnovers, but the problems came offensively when the Maryland offense gave it right back on its way to four total turnovers.

Maryland’s secondary, especially freshman cornerback Will Likely, will be asked to turn Thomas over. The Virginia Tech senior has thrown 12 interceptions, which is tied for the most in the ACC.