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August 28, 2013Sign-up for HokieHaven.com Wireless Text Alerts sent right to your cell phone!
He's one of only a few, but Virginia Tech senior quarterback Logan Thomas has been in this type of situation, against this same team, before.
In 2009, Thomas dressed and traveled to every each of the Hokies' games. Playing behind then-quarterback Tyrod Taylor, Thomas didn't see any action and was redshirted. But the first game of the season, Thomas experienced the lead-up to and the atmosphere of a raucous Georgia Dome, against Alabama.
Granted, that was a team that hadn't reached its recent streak of dominance, with two national championships. But the crowd was overwhelmingly pro-Crimson Tide. It gives Thomas a good idea of what to expect Saturday when the two teams face again. Except this time, Alabama is the top-ranked team in the country and coming off the second of those titles.
"I just remember that we looked at it as two historic programs," Thomas said. "They were playing a lot of great football at the time, Alabama coming back, trying to regain power. A lot of the talk was just about the athletes they have and the differences in look between their players and our players, how they play the game of football and how we play the game of football. They were more of the ground and pound and we're more the spread it out, try to run a little bit type of guys. The talk in the locker room was no different than it is for any game. You know you're going up against a great opponent, you just have to go out there and prepare."
This time, Virginia Tech enters the game as a huge underdog. Vegas sportsbooks have the Hokies as 18-21 point underdogs. That doesn't mean Thomas is treating the game any differently.
"I don't think you ever get an advantage, either way, by what people say," he said. "The advantage is made out on the football field. Obviously, a little bit of the pressure is taken off of us. We're the ones that are expected to get beat by 21 or whatever it is. That makes it a little easier in that aspect, but I think we'll be even. We don't expect any Alabama team to come out dead and expect us to be under the radar. They're gonna come give a hundred percent and that's just how they work."
If Virginia Tech has an advantage, it might be in new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler and offensive line coach Jeff Grimes. Both were members of last season's Auburn staff, which finished the year with the Crimson Tide, albeit a 49-0 loss. Those additions have left plenty observers wondering how much Loeffler will use that he did last season.
"I think it helps that they haven't seen it, but Coach Loeffler and Coach Saban have played against each other plenty of times," Thomas said. "He kinda knows what to prepare for. It's nice not to have everything out there, that they know everything we're gonna do. I guess it's like an element of surprise."
Another big difference from four years ago? This group of Hokies includes 27 combined freshmen and redshirt freshmen who will make the trip. But Thomas was in that spot before, along with senior wide receiver D.J. Coles. The two will impart their wisdom, but hope the jitters quickly wear out.
"I don't see anything timid about these guys," Thomas said. "I think these guys are just excited and ready to play. I think the youth is gonna do enough for 'em as well. The first couple of plays, they might be a little bit all over the place, but I think, in general, they'll be just fine. Football players kinda have a different mentality than anybody else. We'll be fine in that aspect. Once they get adjusted, it's just another game. We've just gotta go out there and execute."
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