About midway through the 2nd Quarter of Miami’s dismantling of App State, the Mountaineers were desperately trying to get back in the game.
It was third and 8 at about the 9 minute mark, and the ‘Canes defense smelled blood.
Appalachian State QB Taylor Lamb took the snap and attempted to find running room via a QB draw.
He was swallowed up.
A few possessions later in an even more urgent attempt to get something going, ASU went for it on 4th and 3 from close to midfield.
This time they went speed option.
Again, Lamb was obliterated.
4th down stop for Chad Thomas and Kendrick Norton. Lunch time https://t.co/d6uriozxOc— Peter Ariz (@PeterAriz) September 17, 2016
Both times, the third year QB was met by ‘Canes emerging superstar junior DE Chad Thomas (with some help from Kendrick Norton).
On a day when many Hurricanes on both sides of the ball came to play, none were more dominant than Thomas.
The Booker T. Washington H.S. product would finish the contest with a team high 9 tackles, an amazing 3.5 TFL’s, and 1.5 sacks to boot.
On the season he now has 15 tackles, 5 TFL’s, and 2.5 sacks, numbers that are already close, or have, smashed his previous career totals.
The former 5 star recruit has looked very good thus far this season, but on Saturday he was flat out impossible to block.
Chad Thomas has been active all game. We are witnessing a new player this season. https://t.co/bGc5c3qyfz— Peter Ariz (@PeterAriz) September 17, 2016
Working with D Line guru Craig Kuligowski has obviously paid dividends for Thomas.
He’s playing fast, and using his athleticism and hands to quickly shed offensive linemen.
With Al-Quadin Muhammad no longer on the team, he’s development could not have come at a better time.
Thomas also seems to be thriving in DC Manny Diaz’ attaching 4-3 scheme, that allows him to use his speed to shoot gaps.
As far as what has helped him and his defensive teammates be so successful this past weekemd, CT summed it up succinctly,
“Just play hard. Don’t let up. We had to dominate and that’s what we did.....”
Indeed, his motor is also allowing him to make plays from the backside, even when the opposition is running away from him.
D linemen just don’t make 9 tackles in a game with out all out effort.
Now that his tenacity is matching his natural given talent, and he’s getting world class coaching, Thomas promises to be a headache for every offense on the Hurricanes schedule.
Miami Head Coach Mark Richt had this to say about Thomas on Wednesday,
“All of our guys worked so hard in the off season (including Chad). I thought (Strength and Conditioning Coach) Gus Felder did a great job with our guys. The first thing is coming in, in really good shape. And the other thing with Chad is, he has been very coach-able. He really trusts our coaching staff, and the game plan. Really good things are happening for him.”
As a result, bad things are happening for the opposition’s offense.
The rest of Miami’s schedule better take notice of big #9.