“As soon as he caught it, I looked up and D.J. was running wide open,” Thomas said. “He’s two for two on his gut feelings this year.”
It was further evidence of the growing comfort between Loeffler and Thomas through five games, and it appears Loeffler has a much better handle on what his best options are going forward. After spending the offseason telling reporters he didn’t want Thomas’s body to take a beating, Thomas has 41 combined carries the past two weeks despite playing through an abdominal strain.
On Thursday, Thomas’s run-heavy playbook was partly due to the hip injury that slowed tailback Trey Edmunds, but it also showed Loeffler understands exactly what his quarterback, and his unit, do best right now.
“We’re gonna be who we are and what we’re best suited to do, and I think the offensive staff did a good job of saying, ‘Okay, what are we capable of doing? What’s our strengths right now, and let’s play to those,” Beamer said.
Thomas’s supporting cast also showed improvement, but it took a hit at the same time. Starting tight end Duan Perez-Means did not make the trip to Atlanta and Beamer confirmed after the game that he has decided to leave the program for personal reasons. Freshman Kalvin Cline will be asked to fill that void.
Wide receiver Willie Byrn, meanwhile, suffered a sprained MCL Thursday to go along with his four catches for 44 yards. Byrn promised to be ready in time for next Saturday’s tilt with North Carolina. But Beamer was simply satisfied that Thomas was able to connect with eight receivers against the Yellow Jackets.
“He had pretty good protection, didn’t have any dropped balls and when you do that, it’s easier to play quarterback,” he said. “I think the people around him played better, too.”
3.The development of freshmen cornerbacks Brandon Facyson and Kendall Fuller could make Detrick Bonner’s rough night a moot point.
One of the few negatives for Virginia Tech’s defense was the play of safety Detrick Bonner. With senior Kyle Fuller at whip linebacker, Bonner was often left in single coverage on wide receivers DeAndre Amelter and Darren Waller and the Yellow Jackets picked on him. The redshirt junior gave up two long receptions and committed two crucial pass interference penalties, and his miscues led directly to all of Georgia Tech’s points.
“In my eyes, I feel like somebody is gonna make a play,” Bonner said. “I just got to get better, so they won’t. Period.”
But after another eye-popping performance by freshmen Brandon Facyson and Kendall Fuller, Bonner’s slip-ups could be forgiven. In the first quarter alone, Facyson recovered a fumble and had a spectacular diving interception that landed at No. 7 on “SportCenter’s” top 10 plays. He’s now tied for the national lead with four interceptions through five games, and Thomas declared he has the best ball skills on the team. Fuller, meanwhile, closed out the game with his second interception in as many games.