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Jeff Thomas Struggles in Hurricanes’ Season Opener

To put it bluntly, Miami’s standout receiver didn’t perform up to ‘par’ against Florida. 

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 24 Camping World Kickoff - Florida v Miami Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Jeff Thomas was far from the only issue that plagued the ‘Canes on offense on Saturday night. However, 2, integral miscues committed by Thomas flipped the momentum of the game, making him a major part in how the Hurricanes ‘beat’ themselves.

Thomas was often a headline this offseason, as he planned to transfer to Illinois before the hiring of Manny Diaz. His initial decision to transfer out of Miami puzzled many as he played a crucial role in former head coach Mark Richt’s system.

Ultimately, Jeff Thomas’s decision to stay in Miami was a building block in crafting the ‘new’ Miami. Now, with a full game under their belts, it’s time to realize the mistakes and get better.

The most glaring mistake that Jeff Thomas made was muffing a punt late in the 3rd quarter — setting up Florida’s offense deep in Miami territory. Thomas’s fumble came after a convincing stop by Miami’s defense and was immediately followed by a Gators’ touchdown. These kinds of mistakes are inexcusable as it puts too much of a burden on the defense. In order for the ‘Canes to succeed, they have to assist their defense, and not leave them in ‘holes.’ Thomas’s fumble was a momentum killer and gave Florida’s offense new life. Handing the ball back to the opposition is something that can’t happen again — we’ll see a different return-man soon if it does.

Thomas’s second crucial mistake occurred on Florida’s goal line. Redshirt freshman and first time starting quarterback Jarren Williams looked to throw on 3rd-and-goal — targeting Thomas on an out route in the endzone. While the coverage by Florida’s defensive back was solid, the ball hit Thomas right in the hands, but he couldn’t haul it in.

Normally, these mistakes could be easily forgotten or breezed over, but Jeff Thomas is supposed to be one of, if not, Miami’s best wide receiver and playmaker. It’s safe to assume that the skill and talent he displayed in 2018 will carry over into this season, but his rough outing in week 0 has raised some question marks surrounding his reliability.

In conclusion, a better Jeff Thomas means a better offense, solutions will be one of Miami’s urgent focuses during their bye week. Going toe-to-toe with a top-10 opponent shouldn’t be looked at as a bad thing, but when you have as many chances as Miami did in order to win that game, it hurts even more, and there’s more emphasis on highlighting the spots you went wrong in. Hopefully, it’ll turn into hunger and determination for the team moving forward. As I stated before, Thomas was far from Miami’s only issue on offense, but he’s one of Miami’s best players and should be held to that standard.