Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

November 27, 2013

QBs center stage for Hokies-Cavaliers

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Quarterbacks will take center stage when Virginia Tech and Virginia square off this week.

David Watford at Virginia and Logan Thomas at Virginia Tech have both fielded dozens of questions about their teams’ struggling offense this season, and on Saturday, they will be going against each other.

For Thomas, it will be the final regular season game in a career that has seen him break most of the career records for the Hokies (7-4, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference). If he can lead Virginia Tech to a win, he and the Hokies could find themselves in the ACC championship game.

A loss by Duke at North Carolina and victory by the Hokies would put Virginia Tech in the title game.

Virginia Tech also will be seeking its 10th consecutive victory in the rivalry, and Thomas was very candid this week when asked to describe how he choose to play his college football with the Hokies.

“If there’s one thing I hate, it’s losing, and the way things were, it didn’t seem like things were going to get better anytime soon,” Thomas said of his assessment of Virginia. “And another thing is that their fans weren’t as passionate as they are here and you always want to play in front of a sold out crowd.”

The big crowds in Blacksburg have shown plenty of displeasure with Thomas the last two seasons. The Hokies offense has sputtered at times, and Virginia Tech will enter the game against the Cavaliers having lost three of their last four.

That’s nothing compared to what Virginia’s Watford has endured in his first season as a starter.

Virginia (2-9, 0-7) has lost eight straight since a blowout victory against FCS-level VMI, and the redshirt sophomore has shouldered plenty of the blame. He’s completed just 52.7 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and 15 interceptions, and has missed opened receivers on deep balls regularly.

The Cavaliers rank near the bottom nationally in yards per completion, and Watford has seemed reluctant to show that he’s the dual threat he was thought to be, rushing for just 171 yards.

Last weekend against Miami, Watford threw an ill-advised pass on the first play that the Hurricanes returned for a touchdown.

After two seasons of having quarterbacks share the job, coach Mike London has stuck with Watford and will start him Saturday, but London said Lambert’s performance last week at Miami earned him some time.

Lambert was 13 for 19 for 134 yards in the lopsided loss

“We will find the times and opportunities to allow Greyson to get in the game and play, but David needs to continue to improve,” London said this week.

With a chance to play in the ACC championship game, Saturday’s contest is an opportunity for the Hokies to undo some of the damage done a year ago when they had to win their last three to finish 7-6.

“It’s kind of unfortunate for their program,” Thomas said of Virginia’s struggles, “but for us, we can’t really be concerned with it. We’ve got to be concerned with getting back to where we’re supposed to be.”

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