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Monday, September 3, 2012
Blitz could be key vs dual-threat Hokies QB

By ESPN Stats & Information

Chris Graythen/Getty ImagesVirginia Tech QB Logan Thomas accumulated 3,482 yards of total offense last season.
When Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech face off tonight at 8 ET on ESPN, it will be all about the quarterbacks.

QUARTERBACKS

This game showcases two of the premier dual-threat quarterbacks in the country in Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas and Georgia Tech’s Tevin Washington. Both players accounted for double-digit touchdowns passing and rushing last season, a feat accomplished by only 11 players in FBS in 2011.

Thomas became only the second quarterback in Virginia Tech history to pass for over 3,000 yards in a season and broke the school record with 3,482 yards of total offense.

But Thomas struggled throwing downfield early last season. In the first five games, he completed 22.9 percent of his passes that traveled 15 yards or more and he didn’t have a touchdown. During the last nine games, Thomas more than doubled his completion percentage on passes of this length, and he threw at least one touchdown in six of eight games.

Blitzing could be a key for the Georgia Tech defense. Thomas completed less than half of his passes when opponents sent five or more pass rushers last season. In Virginia Tech’s three losses, Thomas threw two interceptions in 23 attempts when blitzed.

Thomas’ biggest strength is his running. He rushed for a first down on 51.8 percent of his third down attempts last season, the highest percentage for a quarterback with at least 30 rushes. On third and two or fewer, Thomas converted 20 of 21 rush attempts, which also led FBS.

Washington led FBS with 11.0 yards per pass attempt 22.3 yards per completion in 2011. Ten of his 11 touchdown passes last season were for 25 yards or more and seven of them were for at least 50 yards. He’ll need to get acquainted with completely new targets this year though, because there are no receivers on the roster with a single catch in their college career.

Georgia Tech’s success is highly dependent on Washington’s success as a passer. During the team’s 6-0 start last season, Washington threw for 175.3 yards per game, 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions. The team then went 2-5 in its last seven games, and Washington threw for 85.7 yards per game, one touchdown, and six interceptions.

BIG PLAYS FOR GEORGIA TECH

Since Paul Johnson’s first year as head coach in 2008, no team has been more effective in the running game than Georgia Tech. Running Johnson’s triple-option offense, the Yellow Jackets have averaged an FBS-best 302.0 rushing yards per game over the last four seasons. Last year, they ranked second in FBS with 316.5 yards per game on the ground.

Georgia Tech gained 20 or more yards on 35 of 167 pass plays last season, the highest percentage in FBS. Over the last eight seasons, no team passed for 20 yards or more at a higher rate than the Yellow Jackets. Overall, they gained 20 or more yards on 9.3 percent of their plays, the fourth-highest percentage in FBS.