Ranking The ACC Quarterbacks

Back in June, BC Interruption ranked the 10 returning ACC starting quarterbacks. Despite agreeing with or not having much objection to most of their picks, they also picked Logan Thomas an unfathomable FIFTH on that list! Out of ten! Included among the four quarterbacks ahead of Thomas on their list was a guy whose name they couldn't even spell correctly (something we promise to do, even if it is a totally stupid name...I'm looking at you Bryn).

They didn't make the pick without expecting some controversy however, as in giving their reasoning for the pick, they led off with "I'm sure the VT readers out there are going to crucify me for this." While I will avoid crucifying you A.J. (you are entitled to your opinion), I'm here to set the record straight on Logan Thomas, and to prove to all of the doubters why he is already THE BEST quarterback in the ACC bar none.

Oh, and also if you're interested in seeing where I ranked the rest of the quarterbacks in the ACC, keep reading, you'll be able to see that as well.

First off (and in case you decided to skim through the rankings without reading beforehand), we decided to use the formula of top-44 total defenses being the separator between good defenses and bad defenses (i.e. teams ranked worse than No. 44 in total defense were considered bad defenses). The reason we came to use this format is not that it helped our cause (in fact, it would've helped our argument substantially to extend the line of demarcation for a good defense by even a single spot), but that when analyzing our first team that played 14 games (Clemson), No. 44 completed the top half of the defenses that they played.

For the sake of objectivity, in situations where teams did not play enough games against top-44 defenses for it to equate to about half their schedule, we made a separate comparison that analyzed exactly half (or as close as we could come with teams that played 13 games) of a player's games. We only did this however for players who had a legitimate claim to being the ACC's top quarterback or to support an argument of why a player was ranked where. As it turns out, most of the ACC teams with returning starting quarterbacks did play about half their games against top-44 total defense opponents.

10. Chase Rettig- Boston College (1,960 yards 53.6% 12 TD's 9 INT's 112.4 rating, rush TD)- I know that the rankings of Rettig last would seem to be a reaction to the BC Interruption rankings. But before I actually examined the statistics, I would've had Rettig ranked No. 9. That's when I started thinking about the No. 10 quarterback on my initial list: Tevin Washington (the same order BC Interruption had). The reasoning behind their rankings was that Washington was...

"Only a quarterback by name, Washington is more of a field marshall, managing the option play down in Georgia Tech. He isn't expected to do all that much other than lob the ball to whatever running back the play dictates, and his statistics reflect that."

Washington may not excel at passing, but that's not what he's asked to do. He's asked to run. That's his game. So to not include his rushing numbers in an analysis of him as a player would be like looking at Muggsy Bogues' career blocks to determine his value as a player. Ergo, with rushing statistics included, the edge goes to Washington.

Retting did make substantial improvements last year from the year before. He threw six more touchdowns without throwing any more picks, despite throwing over 100 more passes. He also upped his completion percentage by over 2%. All of this while playing on a team that looked like a sinking ship out of the gate (the Eagles started 1-6). It did not help that all-everything BC running back Montel Harris (and the preseason ACC POY pick) struggled with injuries and missed nearly all of the season. Nobody fares well when someone like that goes down.

So the burden fell on Rettig to win them games, which is not the kind of quarterback he is. Rettig is a competent game manager, and he may end up developing into a T.J. Yates kind of player (minus the interceptions), but he's unlikely to beat you by himself. That's fine. A lot of teams would settle for a quarterback who isn't going to help them beat themselves, but instead keep them in the game. We did for the better part of three years with Sean Glennon (though on occasion, that mantra didn't turn out to be true, as Sean definitely helped to beat us).

Looking at his performances against top-44 defenses (5 out of his 12 games), Rettig threw for a paltry 621 yards (124 ypg), for 4 TD's and 5 INT's, completing only 50% for a rating of 95.38. Compare that to 1,339 yards (191 ypg) 8 TD's and 4 INT's while completing 56% of his passes for a rating of 123.01. There is obviously a huge difference there. But as we see from the comments section of BC Interruption's rankings, Rettig improved markedly down the stretch.

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See that he ranked No. 9 (also see who ranked No. 1) in the conference in November (four games) and was one of the reasons the Eagles won three of their last five.

As BC Interruption also reminded us in their rankings, Rettig is on his fourth offensive coordinator in three years. Yikes! So I sympathize for the kid. But if we're being honest and considering all things, he's the worst returning starting quarterback in the ACC, at least for now.

9. Tevin Washington- Georgia Tech (1,652 yards 49.3% 11 TD's 8 INT's 155.4 rating, 987 rush yards 14 TD's)- Washington is a player who is fighting to keep his position against potential threats Synjyn Days and Vad Lee (yes, stupid name No's. 2 and 3 belong to you Yellow Jacket QB's). He struggled to complete a good percentage last year (as all Georgia Tech quarterbacks do because of 1. Their route structure and 2. They don't have passing quarterbacks), but was very effective with completing long passes. He also didn't turn the ball over much (through the air that is).

Against top-44 defenses, Washington threw for 409 yards (82 ypg) 3 TD's and 4 INT's while completing only 45% of his passes and a passer rating of 111.37 (which is only that high because of his ridiculous yardage per completion. If Washington had met the NCAA qualifier for passes, he would've led the FBS in this category comfortably). But for Washington, we also have to consider the numbers on the ground. Washington amassed 373 yards (75 ypg) 3.7 ypc. and 5 TD's (1 per game) on the ground against top-44 teams in total defense.

Against the remaining eight teams on his schedule, Washington threw for 1,243 yards (155 ypg) with 8 TD's and 4 INT's while completing 52% of his passes for a passer rating of 180.85. Additionally, Washington had 614 yards (77 ypg) for 4.2 ypc. and 9 TD's. Also, against the five worst teams on his schedule (all ranked below No. 92 in total defense or FCS) the stats distort even further. Washington racked up 936 yards (187 ypg) 7 TD's and 1 INT through the air, completing 48% of his passes for a passer rating of 214.54 (unreal, huh?). On the ground, Washington picked up only 328 yards (66 ypg), at 4.6 ypc., but also added 7 rushing TD's. So half of his rushing touchdowns and well over half of his passing touchdowns came against really terrible defensive teams.

While I initially ranked last amongst returning quarterbacks, and even considered moving him up to No. 8 over Rocco because he is able to threaten a team both running and passing the ball, I was surprised to find that Washington averaged fewer total yards per game (203) than Rocco (207). Furthermore, Rocco didn't load up against cream puffs like Washington did, actually playing well in the stretch run of UVA's schedule (most games against good defensive teams). So although I think teams fear being beaten by Washington more than they do Rocco, the evidence for their ability to beat teams with their total offense suggests otherwise.

8. Michael Rocco- UVA (2,671 yards 60.7% 13 TD's 12 INT's 127.1 rating, 2 rush TD's)- The ultimate game manager at quarterback, Michael Rocco, fared better than expected in his first year as the Cavs' starter. And although he was torrid down the stretch (until he played the Hokies) and helped lead them to a 8-5 record, (their best since 2007) it appears (according to multiple reports) that he will lose his job to the more talented Alabama transfer Phillip Sims.

Rocco's problems are easily recognizable. He throws too many interceptions (12), not enough touchdowns (1 per game) he doesn't complete a lot of deep passes (averaged 7.3 yards per attempt, which ranked No. 56 among 115 qualifying quartebacks) and since he doesn't run the ball well, his 207 total ypg. is just average (No. 57 nationally among qualifiers).

I argued above why Rocco should be ahead of Washington, but there is no way he should be any higher in these rankings. Tanner Price is a much more efficient, reliable and productive quarterback and his supporting cast is weaker to boot. So I'm going to leave it at that. Rocco is right where he should be among returning starting quarterbacks. Any arguments (well, aside from vexed UVA fans who are willing to hype up a soon-to-be second-stringer as better than three returning starting quarterbacks in the conference, because...well, there is no because. It's just what they do in Hooville)? Good. Moving on.

7. Sean Renfree- Duke (2,891 yards 65% 14 TD's 11 INT's 125.7 rating, 4 rush TD's)- Initially I had Renfree ranked above Tanner Price and Bryn Renner just based on my personal eye test. But then I looked into the numbers and saw how Renfree performed against top flight competition. It wasn't terrible, but it also wasn't great.

I am mad at myself though for forgetting a crucial quarterbacking component Renfree lacks: composure. You'd think a two-year starter would be comfortable enough at this point to where he wouldn't be able to be rattled when another team put him against the wall. Watching him on many occasions, I can say with certainty, that just hasn't seemed to develop with Renfree. You can tell it from his body language and from his stance in the pocket under pressure. However, Renfree has improved in this area, just not enough.

What we also have to take into account is that Renfree is in David Cutcliffe's weird 3-QB offense that has no rhyme or reason. It's like the Sean Glennon/Tyrod Taylor twosome that the Hokies ran out in the last half of 2007, only the insertions are more sporadic and random, and it's with three quarterbacks instead of two (though Brandon Connette was injured early last year against Stanford and never returned to that rotation). It's like a Butch Davis coaching job: throwing darts blindfolded and hoping one of them hits and makes you look like you're not an idiot. Whatever it is, it doesn't work, and as a fan of an opposing team, you're kind of left saying "okay? so I guess they're going to do this now...whatever that's supposed to do?"

Duke's best quarterback is Sean Renfree, but the Blue Devils run out Connette to eat up the clock and lose a few yards or get back to the line sometimes (especially when they're behind...which makes even MORE sense). I understand getting Anthony Boone out there, as he's really a dual threat guy and may be the future quarterback, but not to be thrown it on a whim in some platoon quarterback system. As a result of not being on the field as often, Renfree didn't produce as much as he did in 2010 (though he did manage to run for 4 TD's, which is pretty impressive considering Duke has two preferred running QB's to Renfree).

Against top-44 defenses, Renfree threw for 1,194 yards (199 ypg) with 8 TD's and 6 INT's while completing 60% of his passes for a 110.39 rating. Against teams worse than No. 44 in total defense, Renfree threw for 1,697 (283 ypg) yards with 6 TD's and 5 INT's and completed 72% of his passes and a rating of 145.80. That's a fairly significant split of nearly 100 more yards per game and 12% more completions against lesser defensive teams. But surprisingly, Renfree had a better touchdown-to-interception ratio against the better defensive teams on his schedule.

Renfree was not without good skill position talent around him (at least in the receiving corps). Conner Vernon, Donovan Varner and Cooper Helfet, who combined for over 2,000 yards and 12 TD's in 2011. Granted, Price also had some very good skill position talent with the likes of Chris Givens, Michael Campanaro, Brandon Pendergrass and Josh Harris, but Price also did more with the talent he was given than Renfree. Statistics also suggest that Price was working behind a poorer offensive line than Renfree, as he was sacked almost exactly twice as much (that great a margin essentially disproves the suggestion that those sacks are Price's fault). Even though Renfree faced the best average teams in terms of total defense of any of the returning starting ACC QB's, Price has proven he has more to offer at this point. He takes care of the ball, he is more productive and he plays better against top competition than does Renfree.

6. Tanner Price- Wake Forest (3,017 yards 60% 20 TD's 6 INT's 132.8 rating, rush TD)- Price would be ranked a lot higher in conferences not named the ACC (weird saying that, huh?). For all intents and purposes, the ACC is a quarterbacks conference this year. Price put up an impressive stat line, and without him, who knows where this Wake Forest team would've ended up last year.

Against teams who finished in the top-44 in total defense, Price threw for 1,342 yards (224 ypg) with 8 TD's and 2 INT's, completing 57% of his passes for a 122.77 passer rating. Against teams ranked worse than No. 44 in total defense, Price threw for 1,675 (239 ypg) yards with 12 TD's and 4 INT's while completing 62% of his passes for a passer rating of 142.47. All in all, those statistics are probably the closest we've seen yet. Price threw for 15 more yards per game, 4 more TD's (but also 2 INT's) and completed 5% more of his passes against against lesser defensive teams. Those numbers aren't nothing, but they aren't earth-shattering either.

Price faced a pretty good average total defense team (second to Duke if my calculations are correct), but did have a couple of letdown games against North Carolina (tossed three picks), Vanderbilt and Mississippi State (low completion percentages and was ineffective). Not surprisingly, Wake lost all three games, two in blowout fashion. Though he came close to what Renner did at UNC, Price's good games were more on par with Renner's bad games than his good games.

5. Bryn Renner- UNC (3,086 yards 68.3% 26 TD's 13 INT's 159.4 rating, rush TD) BC Interruption ranked Renner fourth on their list, ahead of Logan Thomas. While Renner did put together a great season statically, and is probably among the most overlooked quarterbacks in the ACC (along with Renfree and Price), it is important to look how he put those numbers together, and who he put them together against.

Against top-44 defenses, Renner threw for 1,098 yards (183 ypg) 7 TD's and 7 INT's while completing 65% of his passes for a passer rating of 140.6. Against his opponents with total defenses worse than No. 44 (including FCS James Madison), Renner went for 1,988 yards (284 ypg) 19 TD's and 6 INT's while completing 70% of his passes, good for a passer rating of 170.36. This statistic might not mean as much if it were a small sample size, but we're essentially talking about half the schedule (6 of 13 games). So when the splits are THAT different, it is pretty significant. He absolutely pounded cream puff defenses to the tune of over 100 more ypg. than he did against tough defenses. He threw 12 fewer TD's and one more interception against tough defenses, and he completed 5% fewer passes against tough defenses than weak ones.

While Renner managed to finish with a 159.4 passer rating to end the season (ranking No. 10 nationally), much of this is due to his extremely high completion percentage. One thing that I cannot fault him on is that he does complete passes...just too often to both teams. If his passer rating against teams worse than No. 44 in total defense were to hold up for entire season, Renner would've ranked No. 5 nationally behind only Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III, Kellen Moore and Case Keenum. But, taking his numbers against the top-44 total defenses, Renner would've finished No. 37, behind Florida's John Brantley. No. 37 isn't bad, but without his completion percentage, he would be much further down the list.

Renner's statistics also seem a lot less impressive on the whole if you consider that he had two capable running backs at his disposal (including the conference's top returning runner), and three very good receivers in Dwight Jones, Erik Highsmith and Jheraine Boyd. Bernard and the three receivers combined for over 2,500 yards and 23 of his 26 TD's. So teams couldn't just tee off on him.

4. Mike Glennon- N.C. State (3,054 yards 62.5% 31 TD's 12 INT's 136.4 rating, rush TD)- Glennon had a pretty out of nowhere year a season ago. While many (including myself) scoffed at N.C. State letting Russell Wilson go, Glennon put in a season almost exactly like Wilson's second season as a starter (minus the rushing numbers mind you), so the drop-off wasn't that significant. It was time to move on and they had this guy waiting in the wings.

The Wolfpack played two FCS programs in 2011 (something Florida State is doing this year as well. Begin laughing...NOW), so the top half/bottom half numbers are a little skewed. Also, N.C. State only played five top-44 teams in 13 games, so again, not near enough to half. They averaged playing the No. 57 overall defense (which was the worst for teams returning starting quarterbacks in the ACC), but when considering they also played two FCS programs, Glennon faced far and away the worst average defenses of any player on this list.

Against the top half of teams on his schedule (7 out of 13 games), Glennon threw for 1,506 yards (215 ypg) and 11 TD's with 10 INT's while completing 62% of his passes for a passer rating of 121.08. Against the bottom half of his schedule (6 of his 13 games), Glennon threw for 1,548 yards (258 ypg) and 20 TD's with 2 INT's while completing 63% for a passer rating of 153.79.

While he maintained pretty much the same completion percentage throughout (Byrn Renner No. 2), he also went from a 10-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio against the top half of teams in total defense on his schedule to just over 1-to-1 against the top half of teams in total defense.

While both he and Tajh Boyd had pretty different splits against the top half and the bottom half of total defense teams they played, Boyd's problems were based more on his incompletions, whereas Glennon's problems were interception-based. So even though Boyd had much more help in putting up his statistical year, Glennon did play far and away the worst schedule for returning ACC quarterbacks. So because of that, along with Boyd's rushing totals (as pedestrian as they were), I will give him the slight edge.

3. Tajh Boyd- Clemson (3,828 yards 59.7% 33 TD's 12 INT's 141.2 rating, 218 rush yards 5 TD's)- Now we're down to the three real contenders for that top spot, but only one will be getting a rose (well, a metaphorical one). Some may be surprised to see Boyd in third considering he put together the best statistical season (or at least the most passing yards/TD's), but it is not without reason as you will see below.

Against teams that finished in the top-44 nationally in total defense, many of which Clemson played down the stretch, Boyd threw for 1,654 yards (236 ypg) 11 TD's and 8 INT's while completing just under 55% of his passes. In his other seven games Boyd threw for 2,174 yards (310 ypg) 22 TD's and only 4 INT's and completing 65%. Those teams finished 49 (UNC), 70 (BC), 74 (Wake), 81 (Auburn), 108 (Maryland) and 113 (Troy) nationally in total defense, while Wofford is an FCS team.

The difference between the first set of teams and the second set of teams is seismic. He threw for 74 fewer yards per game while completing 10% fewer of his passes and a 1.375 touchdown-to-interception ratio, one-fourth of what he had against teams below No. 44 in total defense (5.5). His passer rating for the games against the seven worst defenses on the schedule was 161.90 (and would've tied for No. 7 nationally for those who qualified if that was his season passer rating), while his passer rating for the seven games against top-44 defenses is 119.69 (which would have placed him No. 89 nationally among qualifiers if this was his season total). Neither of those splits match up favorably to the conferences top-two quarterbacks.

And while many classify Boyd as a running threat, his statistics in that department don't support that. Did you know that Boyd only ran for 218 yards on 142 carries in 2011? That's only a 1.5 ypc. average! Boyd did add 5 touchdowns on the ground, but really I think those statistics support him being termed as a "mobile" quarterback who can get out of the pocket and run if he has to, not a real running threat. Additionally, Boyd racked up 145 of those yards against the seven weaker defenses on his schedule, averaging well over a yard more per carry than his average against the stronger seven defenses. Those stats also fall short of what Virginia Tech signal caller Logan Thomas did pretty significantly.

So basically the myth of Tajh Boyd as the elite quarterback of the conference has been de-bunked. Boyd feasted on weak defenses (which lead to his bloated statistics and Heisman hype) and struggled so mightily against strong defenses that he put up a stat line reminiscent of one of the worst quarterbacks in the FBS. And did I mention he did all of this with two of the top wide receivers in the nation, one of the nation's best tight ends (as evidenced by his being selected in the 3rd round of the 2012 NFL Draft) and an 1,000-yard running back? It makes you wonder how much of Boyd's year was on Boyd and how much was on the other guys?

Who's No. 1? E.J. Manuel- Florida State (2,666 yards 65.3% 18 TD's 8 INT's 151.2 rating, 151 rush yards 4 TD's) vs. Logan Thomas- Virginia Tech (3,013 yards 59.8% 19 TD's 10 INT's 135.5 rating, 469 rush yards 11 TD's)- Now for the most explosive ranking I believe I will make. Florida State fans will be sure to let me know how they feel, and that's fine. They can do that. But what I'm about to show you might muddy the water a little bit as far as how you see things. Certainly by the end of this post, you'll find that the ACC's top returning signal caller is not as clear cut as you might have previously thought. It's at the very least a 1a. 1b. type of discussion.

E.J. put together a pretty good year for the Seminoles. Although he was injured late in the Oklahoma game and then missed a pretty big tilt the next week against Clemson, Manuel still put up numbers that rivaled almost any other quarterback in the ACC. He was efficient, he kept his interceptions down and he appeared to take a big step as a leader.

Against teams who finished in the top-44 in total defense (5 of his 12 games), Manuel threw for 1,087 yards (217 ypg) with 7 TD's and 2 INT's, completing 63% of his passes for a rating of 139.87. But since we're comparing him to Logan Thomas (who played in 14 games), in fairness, we'll also show you Manuel's statistics against the top seven teams on his schedule in total defense. Against those teams, Manuel threw for 1,368 Yards (195 ypg) 8 TD's and 4 INT's and completed 71% for a passer rating of 143.65.

By comparison, in his four games against top-44 defensive teams, Thomas threw for 902 yards (226 ypg) 7 TD's and 3 INT's while completing 63% of his passes for a 160.91 passer rating. That's pretty spectacular. Likewise in games against his top seven opponents in total defense, Thomas threw for 1,498 yards (214 ypg) 12 TD's and 4 INT's, completing of his passes for a 155.48 passer rating.

Manuel may have completed a higher percentage of his passes against his top seven teams, but against top-44 defenses he and Thomas were dead even. Thomas passed for more yards against both top-44 total defenses and his top seven defensive opponents than did Manuel. He also passed for the same or more touchdowns in both circumstances, while maintaining a very similar touchdown-to-interception ratio against top-44 total defenses and an much better ratio against the top seven total defense opponents on his schedule.

Now we'll look at the lower end of the spectrum. Against the bottom six defensive teams on Manuel's schedule (did not play against Clemson): he threw for 1,298 yards (260 ypg) 10 TD's and 4 INT's, completing 65% for a 171.45 passer rating. By comparison, Thomas threw for 1,515 yards (216 ypg) 7 TD's and 6 INT's, completing 57% for a passer rating of 119.80. The gap there is pretty extreme. Thomas struggled with his the weaker opponents on his schedule while Manuel demolished them. But two things should be taken into account here. Despite Manuel being the starter officially for the first time in 2011, he had started eight games in the two years before taking over full time, throwing nearly 175 more passes than Thomas and carrying the ball nearly 80 times more. That is a sizable difference in experience.

Furthermore, three of those games came in his first five starts, representing three of his worst starts of the season. To give you an example of what E.J. Manuel did in his first three starts (not doing his first five starts simply because they stretched across multiple seasons and he had played often in between. Not doing so actually helps E.J. versus Logan's first five), he threw for 624 yards (208 ypg) with 2 TD's and 6 INT's, completing 65% of his passes for a passer rating of 130.46. By comparison, Logan threw for 503 yards (168 yards) 2 TD's and 2 INT's while completing 58% of his passes for a passer rating of 115.00. While Manuel completed a better percentage of his passes for more yards in those starts, he also threw three times the number of interceptions. The passer rating statistic is sometimes not representative of a QB’s true performance, i.e. the value of completion percentage over taking care of the ball. I value the latter more.

Some may argue that Manuel only played in 12 games, so comparing his statistics to Thomas' 14-game totals is unfair. I agree that can be misconstrued, so here are Manuel's 14-game stats (gathered by extrapolating the average of Manuel's stats over a 14-game season): 3,110 yards (222 ypg) 21 TD's 9+ INT's with a 65% completion percentage and a QB rating of 151.64. Compared to Thomas' statistics, Manuel would've thrown for 97 more yards (7 ypg) two more TD's and within one interception of Thomas. Those statistics, while better, are assumed based on his averages, and are not guaranteed to have equaled those totals. Furthermore, if you haven't realized, awarding Manuel a 14th game because of inequity was a gift, as that game was the ACC Championship game. If you want to argue the number of games being unequal, get yourself to a championship game.

What those numbers don't include are the rushing statistics. Just like we did with Tevin Washington and Tajh Boyd, we also have to do with the other two ACC "running quarterbacks." Here's where it gets very interesting. Against teams ranked top-44 in total defense, Manuel rushed for 18 yards (under 4 ypg) for 0.4 ypc. and 0 TD's. For fairness, against the top seven teams on their schedule in total defense, Manuel rushed for 58 yards (8 ypg) for 0.9 ypc. and 0 TD's. Against the bottom six teams (did not play against Clemson)? Manuel rushed for 93 yards (19 ypg) 2 ypc and 4 TD's.

By comparison, in the four games against top-44 defenses, Thomas rushed for 181 yards (or 45 ypg) for 3.6 ypc. and 4 TD's in the four games against top-44 defenses compared to 7 TD's in the 10 games against teams that ranked worse than No. 44 in total defense. But again to appease those who say "well those four games might be the anomaly," I will also provide Logan's rushing statistics against the top seven defenses he faced. In those seven games, Thomas rushed for 318 (of his season total 469 yards) yards, a 3.7 ypc. and 7 TD's. In the games against the seven weakest defenses Thomas faced, he rushed for 151 yards, 2 ypc. and 4 TD's. So while E.J. put up the overall better passing statistics, Logan trumped E.J.'s rushing numbers and some.

Lastly, for the Manuel vs. Thomas argument, some will say "Florida State played a much tougher average opponent in total defense." While it is true that the Seminoles did play a tougher schedule, as it relates to opponents' defenses, you'll be in for a surprise. The average total defense that the Seminoles played (excluding FCS teams) was No. 55 nationally. The average total defense that the Hokies played was No. 56 nationally. That is virtually indistinguishable.

Now, for those who want to argue that Tajh Boyd deserved to be No. 1 or over Thomas, I will address that issue. As it relates to the schedule, Clemson faced better defenses in their seven games than the Hokies did, that is undeniable. But, while Clemson faced seven defenses that averaged No. 20, the Hokies faced an average defense of No. 39. What might surprise you is that the No. 39 defense gave up only 27 more yards per game, 0.7 more TD's per game and .17 more yards per play than the No. 20 defense. But it goes both ways, as the Hokies six bad defensive opponents were on average better than Clemson's six (both teams played one FCS team). The average of the weakest six defenses the Hokies faced was No. 76, while the average of the weakest six defenses the Tigers faced was No. 83. The difference between the teams that sat No. 76 and No. 83 in total defense in 2011: 9 more yards per game, 0.5 more TD's per game and .17 more yards per play. If we merge the totals to try and construct an average weak defense the Hokies might have faced compared to one Clemson might have faced, we find that the Hokies might have faced a team that gave up 18 more yards per game, 0.2 more TD's per game and zero more yards per play. In other words, WHOOPDY DO! We're moving on.

As for Tajh Boyd's 815 more passing yards, keep in mind Boyd attempted 108 more passes in 2011. Also, while 2011 was the first year that either of the players started at QB, Boyd had more than double the passing attempts that Thomas had coming into the season, so he'd seen much more playing time. I'm not going back to compare their individual numbers against one another. I'll let you do that. But the statistics show that Boyd capitalized on weaker teams and Thomas stepped up to play against the big boys.

What does all of this say about Thomas? Well, 1. He elevates his game against better opponents and 2. The Hokies called on him more in big games and he delivered. He was the Hokies best and most important player down the stretch, and as the graphic in the Chase Rettig ranking shows, the ACC's best quarterback in the stretch as well. So much for the "he hid behind ACC POY David Wilson" argument. While draft experts drool over Thomas for his height, size and what he can potentially do in the future, or as BC Interruption put it:

"this is just based on last years numbers, which were Thomas' first as a starter. Now if you were to ask me where he lands at the end of 2012, I would put him at #1, or #2, but there is still a season of football to be played before he can climb that high."

...what he has done to date DOES merit him being ranked the top returning quarterback in the ACC, and I think I have proven that beyond doubt.

So the final two rankings for the returning starting QB's in the ACC are:

2. E.J. Manuel- Florida State (2,666 yards 65.3% 18 TD's 8 INT's 151.2 rating, 151 rush yards 4 TD's)

1. Logan Thomas- Virginia Tech (3,013 yards 59.8% 19 TD's 10 INT's 135.5 rating, 469 rush yards 11 TD's)

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