BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Logan Thomas already has the whole accountability-as-a-quarterback thing down pat.
The redshirt sophomore takes the blame for the only sack No. 11 Virginia Tech’s offensive line has allowed him to take this season, and he’s eager to show what he can do when the Hokies (4-0) open Atlantic Coast Conference play against No. 13 Clemson (4-0) on Saturday night.
What he wants to avoid is getting into a shootout against buddy Tajh Boyd, the Tigers quarterback, who has put together a much glitzier resume through his first four starts. It will be the first game against top-level competition for Thomas, and the first on the road for Boyd.
"I just hope to show a certain poise, a certain control and confidence that demands the attention of my team and my offense in the huddle," Thomas said of the matchup this week. "Just enough to go out there and put points on the board and win games. I don’t want to go out there and be anything that I’m not or be less than I am. I just want to do enough to get the W."
What Thomas has done so far has been more than enough for the Hokies. He’s thrown for 761 yards, completed 57 percent of his passes and has four touchdowns and four interceptions working against defenses that have predominantly been set up to shut down Virginia Tech’s ground game.
Clemson may take the same approach Saturday night, and the Tigers do it well. Last week, coach Dabo Swinney’s defense held No. 23 Florida State to 29 rushing yards in a 35-30 victory.
"Their offense — they want to run the football," Swinney said of the Hokies, who average 212 yards per game on the ground. "They run it 44 times a game. Up front they are big and have a bunch of veterans, NFL type guys. They’ve played a lot of winning football."
Hokies starting tailback David Wilson also is more proven than Thomas at this point, having played for three years. He’s averaging 5.9 yards per carry and has run for 516 yards and five touchdowns. Backup Josh Oglesby has five touchdowns as well, and Thomas has one.
The Hokies, however, have actually passed for more yards, 218.5 per game, thus far.
It still hardly compares to what Boyd has done, particularly in the past two weeks. He’s already got 13 touchdown passes, while throwing for 730 yards in the past two weeks, leading a comeback victory against defending national champion Auburn and then beating the Seminoles.
He’s also thrown just one interception, giving him the kind of credentials that make Virginia Tech defensive end James Gayle excited about finally getting into conference play.
"This is probably my most anticipated game since the Stanford game last year, seeing that Clemson has already knocked off Florida State and they beat Auburn, who were the national champions last year," said Gayle, a high school rival of Boyd. "I feel like it’s a huge step in competition. I feel like the first four games were kind of getting us ready for ACC play."
Virginia Tech ranks second nationally in rushing defense, allowing just 43 yards per game, fourth in overall defense, allowing just 231 yards, and sixth in scoring defense, allowing 10 points per contest. Opponents have managed only five touchdowns — Clemson’s per game average.
The Hokies also will be the second highly ranked defense in a row to try to slow the Tigers, and will have to do better than Florida State did last week. The Seminoles arrived ranked fifth and allowing just 195 yards per game, but Boyd and the Tigers got 443 and five touchdowns.
All the moving and shifting the Tigers do doesn’t seem to concern the Hokies.
"They can do all the motioning in the world. They still have to run the ball through the line," Gayle said. "I know what I have to do and everybody else on the line knows what they have to do, so it’s not really that big of a deal. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before."