A QB Controversy In Blacksburg?

Could this be avoided with Mark Leal in the game?


All it took was one loss for the fanbase to work themselves into a tizzy.  The North End Zone was one of the most critical, obnoxious and depressing group of students I've ever sat with.  I would be a hypocrite if I didn't take some blame myself for my (re)actions in regards to some moments in the game.  I've never booed a Virginia Tech player before in my life and yet, amongst the rain of boo's I found my own after the 11-yard punt by Scott Demler.  It was a sobering moment for me.

Most interesting to me are the criticisms of first year starting QB, Logan Thomas.  Before, during and especially after the loss to Clemson, I heard a lot of negative comments regarding Logan Thomas.  The strongest comments that I heard involved Logan Thomas being compared to Sean Glennon, maybe the most infamous QB in Virginia Tech history.  And now we find Virginia Tech 4-1 on the season, and there are clamors in the stands for Mark Leal in place of Thomas. 

Below the jump, we will explore the possibility of a quarterback controversy in Blacksburg.

Ask any of the coaches and they will tell you that there is less than a zero percent chance of a QB controversy.  Ask some of the fans watching the games and they will tell you differently.  Mark Leal is quickly becoming a more common name in Blacksburg.  Warranted or not, Logan Thomas is garnering comparisons to Sean Glennon and Mark Leal is getting compared to Tyrod Taylor

There have been three claims that I have heard about Logan Thomas and Mark Leal and we will examine all three. 

Claim 1: Logan Thomas Isn't A Strong Enough Leader

This is a claim that I hear a lot, more so after the Hokies' first loss of the season to Clemson.  One particular comment made after the Clemson game doesn't help his cause.

When asked about how to fix the passing game, Thomas responded "I have no idea." 

This isn't what you want or need your starting quarterback to say.  Thomas needs to come across as more confident and positive, even after his first loss as a starter. 

While this doesn't look good for Thomas, you have to take into account what some of the coaches have been saying about him.  Thomas has a quiet leadership quality to him.  Some in the locker room have compared his quiet confidence to the same swagger that Tyrod Taylor carried around all the time. 

Time will tell if Logan will get more confident or assertive.  What this argument doesn't answer is whether or not Mark Leal would be any better as a leader.  Therefore, this argument really holds no weight.  It proves nothing either way, therefore people, stop talking about it.

Claim 2: Mark Leal Fits Virginia Tech's System Better

This is another claim that I have been hearing since the spring scrimmages.  Logan Thomas is tall and rigid when moving about in the pocket while Mark Leal is shorter and agile when scrambling.  It's easy to see why the comparisons to Tyrod Taylor are being thrown out. 

People don't like change and a lot of people aren't used to seeing a tall, poised quarterback in the pocket.  Logan Thomas isn't looking to run around in the backfield, he's looking to sit in there and throw bullets. 

Claims that our offensive line isn't good enough to support a pocket passing quarterback are the keys to this argument.  If the offensive line isn't good enough to protect him in the pocket, we need somebody who can quickly escape pressure and move outside of the pocket.

This argument has some legitimacy, but it also has its flaws.  While it is true that Logan isn't the most nimble player out there, having a mobile QB won't solve the offensive line problems.  Ask any offensive lineman, it's a pain to have a scrambling QB in the backfield. 

When an offensive lineman is engaged with his defender he has to keep his eyes on his target.  It makes his job easier if he assumes his QB is directly behind him.  With a scrambling QB, the lineman's assumptions can go out the window.  It is very easy for the lineman to lose track of the QB and that's how assignments get blown on longer plays.  This can directly lead to botched plays or sacks.

At the same time, if you can't escape pressure, you're going to get hit.  Leal could definitely avoid pressure better than Logan Thomas could.  Leal is lighter on his feet and more nimble than Thomas.  With this skill set comes the ability to break off some long runs with your feet.  Logan can very effectively pick up one or two yards by falling forward but the likelihood that he will bust off a huge run is doubtful.  Leal brings that extra dynamic, but even those long 70-yard Tyrod-esque runs aren't a guarantee by any stretch.

With O'Cain calling the plays now, it's unclear if the new spread, shotgun formations are a part of his natural system or a result of Logan Thomas being the QB running the system.  Either way, both of these QB's bring different skill sets to the table. 

Feel free to debate this one.

Claim 3: Logan Thomas Isn't Built To Be A Quarterback

Of all of the claims this one might hold the most weight.  Logan Thomas was recruited as a tight-end to Virginia Tech.  Thomas has always dreamed of playing receiver/tight-end and this is on record.  It is also on record that Thomas would not have chosen Virginia Tech had they recruited him as a QB out of the gate. 

Thomas' height and natural skills as a receiver would certainly give validity to the argument that he needs to play the position that is most natural to him.  We saw against Wake Forest in 2010 that he can make the big plays as a receiver.

Mark Leal was recruited as a QB and played QB all the way through high school.  It's what he's known and is comfortable with. 

It's very easy to make the argument that both players should do what is natural to them.  Let Leal be the quarterback and let Logan Thomas fill some gaps in the very weak tight-end position for the Hokies. 

The flaw in this argument is that this argument goes off the assumption that Logan Thomas won't improve.  Thomas is a first year starting QB and is going to go through some growing pains.  It's impossible to tell how Logan will look two to three years down the road, or maybe as soon as by the end of the season. 

It says a lot about the confidence that the fans have in Thomas after wanting to make the switch after a five game tenure. 

I believe this is an argument that can be debated as well.

The Verdict

The reality of the situation is that there isn't a QB controversy within the locker room.  The coaches speak highly of Thomas and his fellow players are doing the same.  If coaches listened to the fans, Tim Tebow would be leading the 0-4 Broncos for the entirety of the season. 

Should Thomas continue to perform poorly though, it could become interesting to see if the coaches give Leal some special packages in the offense.  In the mean time, be calm and carry on.

What is your take on the debate?  Post in the comments below.

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