Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer says it wasn't all Logan Thomas' fault.
The Hokies' quarterback completed just 5 of 26 passes for 59 yards with an interception in Virginia Tech's 35-10 loss to top-ranked Alabama. It wasn't exactly the new and improved Thomas that Hokies fans expected.
Beamer has declined to say how many dropped passes the coaches counted when grading the game film, but most estimates from others suggest the Hokies dropped nearly twice as many passes as they held onto.
"I'd rather not get into particulars," Beamer said. "We need to be more consistent in catching the football. We're going to work hard this week throwing a lot of balls. The guys have done it before. We've seen those guys be positive players so we just have to get back to being a positive player now."
Thomas, the team's unquestioned leader, accepted some of the blame.
"Anytime there's drops, it's a little bit of both," he said when asked if it was more failure by the receivers or him placing the ball wrong. "It could be just placement by a little bit. But you know it's something that's easily correctable. Just go put a little more work in and we'll be just fine."
The Hokies play FCS-level Western Carolina, and will work in have more receiving options than starters D.J. Coles and Demetri Knowles, who accounted for the bulk of the drops .
Knowles finished with two catches for 3 yards, and Coles with one for 34 yards.
Charley Meyers, who missed the Alabama game with a balky hamstring, will be available, Beamer said, and freshman Joshua Stanford "looked fast out there" and will continue getting more work this week.
Besides the mechanics of catching the ball, the receivers needs to be more precise in their route-running, Beamer and Thomas said. On Thomas' lone interception, which was returned for a touchdown, the coaches initially felt that Alabama had fooled them by disguising its pass defense.
"We had poor spacing and ran a poor route" on the interception, Beamer said. "... Really it was just our team not executing, lining up correctly and not running the correct route at the proper depth."
The paltry passing numbers and performance did little to shake Thomas' confidence, either in himself or his receivers, many of whom he worked with all summer.
"I think these guys can be as good as they want to be," he said. "If they just keep working hard. I expect them to keep working harder this week than they have in the past."
During the summer, Thomas and his teammates said the biggest difference in him was in the way he led, holding players accountable for running the wrong routes, and for dropping well-thrown passes.
During the game, he said, that didn't seem like the best way to proceed.
"I just try to encourage him the entire time," Thomas said of Knowles, a former sprinter still learning the game. "He's a young guy, just like the rest of our receivers, pretty much. Just kind of need a little bit of reinforcement. Obviously they know they messed up, so you don't really need to tell them."