Virginia Tech vastly improved

Logan Thomas' poor performance against Clemson on Oct. 1 was dissected so often he had to feel like a frog in freshman biology.

Instead of shrinking from the microscope's harsh glare, Thomas went back to work on correcting his weaknesses. And next Saturday night, the big sophomore quarterback gets a chance for revenge.

Looking every bit like a finished product in the Hokies' 38-0 Coastal Division-clinching victory at Virginia, Thomas is eager for his second opportunity at the Tigers, which limited him to 125 passing yards in a 23-3 whipping two months ago.

"I'm extremely excited," he said of the rematch. "But I don't just want to win a Coastal Division championship, I want to win an ACC championship. We'll get a shot against a team we lost to earlier this year and I'm looking forward to it."

As he should be, given his level of play since that game. Thomas' stats at Virginia -- 13-of-21 passing for 187 yards and two touchdowns, 27 rushing yards and a score -- weren't nearly as immense as his impact.

Skillfully leading touchdown drives of 83, 96, 79 and 79 yards against a good defense, Thomas justified the Cam Newton comparisons which were made in the summer. He hit deep passes, ran for first downs when needed and made no mistakes.

Since the loss to Clemson, Virginia Tech has won seven straight games, averaging 31.3 points over that span. The 6-foot-6, 254-pound Thomas and his immense physical skills are the primary reason for that excellence.


"Logan is in control," Hokies coach Frank Beamer said. "I love that about him. He takes blame and he's a great leader. He gets the job done. I don't think you could ask for anything better." (Getty Images)
"Logan is in control," Hokies coach Frank Beamer said. "I love that about him. He takes blame and he's a great leader. He gets the job done. I don't think you could ask for anything better."

MONDAY NOTES: The Hokies' defense recorded its first shutout since blanking Boston College 19-0 on Sept. 25, 2010 in Chestnut Hill, Mass. Tech turned Virginia away on three trips inside its 20-yard line and three other possessions on its side of the 50-yard line.

* TB David Wilson bounced back with a vengeance after being held to a season-low 82 yards Nov. 17 against North Carolina, rushing for 159 yards at Virginia. Wilson has gone over the 100-yard mark in 10 of 12 games, including 123 in the loss to Clemson.

* The Hokies are no stranger to the ACC title game as it will be their fifth appearance in seven years. If they win this one, it will mark their fifth conference championship since joining the ACC back in 2004. It will be Clemson's second appearance in the ACC title tilt.

SERIES HISTORY: Clemson leads 18-12-1 (last meeting, 2011, Clemson won 23-3).

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Since the defeat to Clemson, the Tech offense has truly become two-dimensional as QB Logan Thomas has become a guy you can win games with as opposed to playing around him to win the game. Thomas' ability to complete 60 percent or more of his passes has forced defenses to take a man out of the tackle box, giving TB David Wilson more room to run. Unless the O-line has problems blocking DE Andre Branch again, it's a safe bet the Hokies will score more than a field goal in the rematch.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: In the first matchup, Tech actually did a decent job with the Tigers, although it did allow a couple of big plays for TDs. While the Hokies have lost three starters since then, the backups have been more than adequate and the pass rush has continued to hassle opposing QBs. Clemson's Tajh Boyd is unlikely to go 13-of-32 in the rematch, but he's been more susceptible to turnovers lately and that's something Tech always does an excellent job of forcing. If Boyd continues to have those issues, look for a defensive score in this one.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "They have some big guys over there. But today, we were the better line. That's the way it goes sometimes." -- DE James Gayle after shutting out Virginia on Saturday. PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Logan Thomas -- After looking jittery and indecisive against Clemson in October, one knows Thomas has been itching for the rematch. If he doesn't have DE Andre Branch in his face continually, Thomas should be able to enjoy a lot more success across the board.

WR Marcus Davis -- As was the case last year, Davis is producing down the stretch. Coming off a five-catch, 119-yard performance against Virginia, Davis could be a key as the No. 3 receiver against the Tigers' smaller defensive backs.

CB Jayron Hosley -- Last year's All-America did an excellent job with Watkins in October, limiting him to three catches for 38 yards and also intercepting a pass. Hosley played one of his better games in weeks at Virginia with 10 tackles and a forced fumble, and will need to stay at that level if Tech is to keep Watkins in check.

ROSTER REPORT: LB Alonzo Tweedy (ankle) returned to the field after missing three games, but was limited to special teams duty as the coaches opted to go with five defensive backs. Tweedy was injured in the second half of an Oct. 22 win over Boston College.

* C Andrew Miller (hip/ankle) was able to play at Virginia and turned in a solid effort, helping the offense roll up 410 total yards and 38 points. Miller should earn a spot on the All-ACC team when it is announced this week.

* ROV Antone Exum (leg) appeared to come up limping on a play in the third quarter, but didn't miss a snap. Exum finished the day with 10 tackles, his second straight double-figure tackling effort since switching from free safety before the North Carolina game Nov. 17.

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