Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

October 15, 2012

Thomas' togetherness talk fired up VT teammates

By LARRY EDENS for the Daily Telegraph
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLACKSBURG, Va. — They say that actions speak louder than words. That may be true.

But when you’re a physically imposing quarterback like Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas and you couple a team-meeting speech with a two-touchdown, 256-yard passing performance in a much-needed home win, the loudness can reach almost immeasurable decibels.

On Saturday, the fans at Lane Stadium saw to that in the Hokies come-from-behind 41-20 victory over Duke. The win followed back-to-back losses to Cincinnati and North Carolina, a situation that prompted Thomas to speak to the team after practice on Thursday.

What he said was almost prophetic.

“I just said we need to stick together through thick and thin, no matter what happens,” said Thomas, a self-admitted proponent of one-on-one mentoring rather than that of the captured-audience approach.

“It could get bad right off the start, but if it does, we have to hang together. We’ve had two tough losses the past two weeks. It would be easy for the team to fall apart. But the type of guys we are, we just have to stick together, become closer, and be stronger.”

This season’s first-quarter doldrums continued for Virginia Tech against the Blue Devils. Duke scored a touchdown on its first drive and Virginia Tech followed that with a three-and-out.

By the time the quarter ended, Duke had established a 20-0 lead by virtue of quarterback Sean Renfree’s 62-yard touchdown pass, safety Jordon Byas’ 20-yard interception return for a touchdown, and kicker Ross Martin’s two field goals.

From that point on, however, it was all Hokies. The defense threw a shutout the final three quarters and the offense rolled up 41 unanswered points in a game that turned from Virginia Tech reeling to Duke being routed.

Renfree was sacked five times by a defense that had only recorded eight the previous six games; the Hokies offense was balanced and deadly: freshman tailback J.C. Coleman rushed for 183 yards and two touchdowns while redshirt senior flanker Marcus Davis caught both of Thomas’ touchdown passes, one for 42 yards, the other for 47.

Perhaps Thomas’ most infectious team-speech words were reverberating in the ears and minds of him and his teammates in the game’s final 45 minutes.

“I just wanted to let them know that no matter what happens, I’m still going to play my tail off. I’m still going to go out there and lay it on the line for you all,” he said.

“I expect you to do that for me because we are Virginia Tech. This is how we play. We play hard every single game, every single play. We just have to stick together.”

Not only did they do that, they stuck it to their opponent.

Thomas hopes Virginia Tech’s newfound winning formula will showcase itself again versus Clemson on Saturday in Death Valley.

Last season, Clemson defeated the Hokies 23-3 in Blacksburg, a loss that derailed Virginia Tech from the national-championship-game track. The Tigers went on to win the ACC title with an equally convincing 38-10 victory over Virginia Tech in Charlotte.

“I’m not really a chip-on-the-shoulder type of guy, but [I’ve] had that loss tucked away in my mind,” Thomas said. “I’m extremely happy to get another shot at them and hopefully beat them on their home turf. We have to come out with the mindset that no one can stop us.”

Sounds like the beginnings of another effective pre-game speech.