Marshall football: Tech's Thomas not your typical QB
HUNTINGTON, W.Va - The Marshall University defense has a tall - and heavy - task before it when it faces Virginia Tech and Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas on Saturday.
Thomas, a fifth-year senior and one of the leading passers in Virginia Tech history, rumbles into Saturday's noon matchup at Lane Stadium (ESPNU) standing 6-foot-6 and 254 pounds. To compare, those are similar dimensions to 6-5, 258-pound defensive tackle James Rouse.
And just because Thomas is bigger than your average signal-caller, that doesn't mean he can't use his feet. Thomas led Virginia Tech last season with 524 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns. Marshall's defenders understand that arm tackles will be useless against Thomas this Saturday.
Jermaine Holmes remembers the first time he faced Thomas, in 2011 when Thomas was a redshirt sophomore and Holmes was a freshman.
"I saw him and you don't usually see a quarterback that big," he said. "That's a big boy. We just need to fully wrap our arms around him and bring him down, but he's really strong, too. We just really need to gang tackle and keep him inside."
Thomas hasn't been a prolific passer so far this year, completing just 47 percent of his passes for 517 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions. Yet he had his best game last week against East Carolina, completing 25 of 43 throws for 258 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Marshall Coach Doc Holliday figures he'll see Thomas' arm and legs put to good use Saturday.
"He looks like a big tight end out there, but he can run," he said. "They say he's 6-foot-6, but he looks bigger than that when he gets out on the field with the uniform on. He's impressive and he makes all the throws."
THE SAYING around Marshall's football team is, when your number is called, you must step up and produce. Defensive lineman Jarquez Samuel embodied that last week.
After Brandon Sparrow sprained his ankle against Gardner-Webb, Samuel, a 6-4, 276-pound redshirt sophomore moved into the starting lineup and responded with a team high nine tackles, assisting on a tackle for loss, from the nose tackle position.
Samuel said he had a lot of help to prepare for his first start.
"It all started from practice and my teammates helping me out," Samuel said. "James Rouse is like my big brother out there, telling me, 'You're going to be all right, just play your game.' I just went in there with a mindset of just playing hard and playing physical."
Samuel now has 10 tackles, one for a loss, and a quarterback hurry in three games.
DEANDRE REAVES stepped into the kickoff return spot versus Ohio after Steward Butler's fumble on a second-quarter kickoff gave the Bobcats a touchdown. Reaves took three kickoffs for an average of 25.7 yards and a longest of 33 yards.
And Holliday said Reaves, a 5-10, 176-pound redshirt sophomore, likely will be back there again.
"Probably," Holliday said. "Number one, he did a nice job. And Stew Butler is a good football player for us and he'll continue to be a good football player for us."
AS COSTLY as turnovers were last week for Marshall, there is no time to relax about them now. Virginia Tech is tied for 11th in the FBS with Marshall and 11 other teams with seven turnovers gained. The Hokies intercepted East Carolina quarterback Shane Carden three times last week in a 15-10 win.
Holliday said the coaches will continue to emphasize ball protection.
"That's something we do every day and it's not going to change," he said. The skill players are always working on ball security and good players will come back and respond and not let it happen again. That's what good players do. Those kids are good players and I expect them to be better this week.
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.