Dual-threat quarterbacks give Alabama defense the most trouble
By MARQ BURNETT
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- In Alabama's two losses in the last two years, the Crimson Tide struggled with dual-threat quarterbacks who were able to improvise and make plays when receivers were covered down field.
Jordan Jefferson came in for Jarrett Lee in 2011 when LSU knocked off Alabama in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Jefferson was able to keep plays alive and moved the chains with timely scrammbles.
Last season, Johnny Manziel lit up the Tide in the first quarter and made them pay if players took bad angles.
In the eyes of Tide coach Nick Saban, Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas is the type of quarterback with the ability to beat a team with his arm and legs.
"Logan Thomas is an exceptionally talented quarterback who is really capable of taking over a game as a passer or a runner," Saban said. "He's a big guy who's very athletic."
Thomas, a senior, exploded onto the scene in 2011 as a sophomore. He led the Hokies to an 11-3 record and a trip to the Sugar Bowl. Thomas accounted for 30 total touchdowns, 19 passing and 11 rushing. He completed 60 percent of his passes and had scouts raving about his potential at the NFL level.
But as Thomas regressed in 2012, so did the Hokies. Thomas completed just 51 percent of his throws and the Hokies limped to a 7-6 record, its worst in 20 years. In an interview with WJOX, Thomas said he pressed too much during his junior season and tried to make every play instead of relying on his teammates.
Still, Saban has seen what Thomas can do and isn't overlooking the 6-foot-6, 260 pound from Lynchburg, Va.
"He's shown he has the capability of being an outstanding player in terms of making great throws as well as an ability to run the ball," Saban said. "He's a really big guys who has a really strong arm and is a really strong runner. So, we see him as one of the big challenges for our defense. All we look at is a guy's history to show what he's capable of. If he's not going to play well that's going to be something that we have to contribute to by how we play.
"We know he's capable of playing well if we don't do the things we need to do to play winning football on defense."
Safety HaHa Clinton-Dix said he's never played against a 250-pound quarterback.
"He's a great quarterback, big, physical, he can tuck the
ball and run," Clinton-Dix said. "We have to be ready for that."
Defensive end Ed Stinson noted that while Thomas is a bigger quarterback, he's confident he could bring him down. Stinson said it will take everyone knowing their assignments to stop Thomas and the Hokie offense.
"He's a big guy. He's got a good arm," Stinson said. "We've just got to come to play and stay in our gaps and look to contain him."