It is a good sign for Georgia Tech that quarterback Justin Thomas is rounding back into 2014 form.
In the past two weeks, the senior has looked more like the man in control of the nation’s top running attack instead of the one who was frustrated and flustered in 2015. A confident Thomas is needed if the Yellow Jackets have any hopes to elevate this season from average to good.
In last week’s game against Duke, Thomas rushed for 195 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-35 win.
“You have to look at Justin Thomas and say he might have had his finest hour,” Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said. “He played like a senior. That’s what I told him after the game.”
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As a result of that performance, Thomas was named the ACC Offensive Back of the Week and the Walter Camp National Player of the Week.
Thomas became only the 39th player in FBS history with 4,000 passing yards and 2,000 rushing yards. He became the fourth ACC player to accomplish the feat, most recently by Marquise Williams of North Carolina.
“That’s huge,” Thomas said. “As many people that have played the game, for me to be the 39th player to do that, that is special. In this type of era and some of the quarterbacks that have gone through in college football, it’s a great accomplishment. That’s not all me, though; the guys have protected me and guys have had to make plays to put me in that situation.”
Thomas had a career-high 459 yards in total offense, the most by a Yellow Jackets player since George Godsey set a program record with 477 against Virginia in 2001. Thomas set his previous best of 353 yards against Wofford in 2014 in his first career start.
Thomas will need to be in top form this week when the Yellow Jackets travel to North Carolina for a 12:30 p.m. game.
A year ago, Thomas threw for 168 yards and rushed for 66 yards and two touchdowns in Georgia Tech’s 38-31 loss to the Tar Heels in Atlanta. In that game, the Yellow Jackets rushed out to a 21-0 lead, only to have North Carolina storm back and hand Georgia Tech its third straight loss.
North Carolina (6-2, 4-1) currently shares the lead in the ACC’s Coastal Division with Virginia Tech. The Tar Heels did not play last week and spent the time getting back to basics. They began putting in the game plan against Georgia Tech during the latter portion of the week.
“The main objective, really, is to come out as fresh as we can, both mentally and physically,” North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora said.