As he sat still basking in the glow of his first bowl win as a starter that came as a result of one of the most unsatisfying offensive performances in
Will he stay for his senior season, or will he enter the
Though Thomas had a sub-par season, his intentions will play a huge role in how potent Tech's offense could be next season, but he's only part of the equation. There's still the question of what Tech's offense will look like, and who will lead it from the sideline and play-calling booth.
"I can't tell you now," said Thomas immediately after Tech's 13-10 overtime win Friday against
"I have a big decision in front of me either way it goes."
After seeing his team finish 7-6 (4-4 in the
There's ongoing speculation Bryan Stinespring, who just finished his 11th season as Tech's offensive coordinator and who has been on Tech's staff in various capacities since 1990, quarterbacks coach and play-caller Mike O'Cain, offensive guards and center coach Curt Newsome and wide receivers coach Kevin Sherman have all coached their last games for Tech, at least in their current roles.
Newsome, a graduate of Phoebus High, may be in line to return to the assistant coaching staff at James Madison, where he was an assistant coach from 1999-2005 before coming to Tech. Sherman is allegedly on the brink of moving on to coach wide receivers at Purdue for new coach Darrell Hazell.
Thomas was the catalyst for an offense that didn't always click. He became the first quarterback to lead Tech in rushing since the '65 season with 524 yards (Bobby Owens led the team in '65 with 526 yards). Thomas also broke his own school record for most total offense in a season (3,500 yards this season after finishing with 3,482 yards last season).
On the other hand, he wasn't sharp throwing the ball. Thomas completed just 51 percent of his passes for 2,976 yards, 18 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. No Tech quarterback in the last 40 years threw more interceptions in a single season. Will Furrer threw 16 in the '88 and '91 seasons.
If Thomas doesn't return, the favorite to win the starting quarterback job is Mark Leal, who has attempted just 19 passes in five games as a backup in his first two seasons.
As inconsistent as Tech's passing was most of the season, wide receivers Marcus Davis (51 catches for 953 yards and five touchdowns) and
Tech averaged 145.9 rushing yards per game (79th in the nation) behind freshman J.C. Coleman (492 yards) and an offensive line that will lose starting tackles Nick Becton and Vinston Painter, and 376.77 total yards per game (82nd in the nation).
The last time Tech finished with fewer rushing yards per game was during the '07 season when it averaged 133.6 per game, but an 11-3 record and Atlantic Coast Conference championship helped mask some of Tech's issues running the ball.
While Tech's offense started slow and never found its footing, the defense made dramatic improvements as the season progressed. In its first six games, Tech gave up 495 yards or more to three opponents (Pittsburgh, 537 yards;
Tech, which won its last two regular-season games just to be bowl-eligible for a 20th consecutive season and finished with three consecutive wins, didn't give up more than 329 yards to any of its last seven opponents. Rutgers had just 196 yards, which was the same amount of yards Tech's offense generated.
Tech's defense is 19th in nation in total defense (333.2 yards per game) and 33rd in scoring defense (22.85 points per game). It posted 27 of its 35 sacks for the season in the last seven games.
If defensive end James Gayle, a Bethel High graduate who had five sacks this season, and cornerback Antone Exum, who led the team with five interceptions, don't go pro, Tech will have nine starters returning on defense. Linebacker Jack Tyler is set to return after leading the team with 119 tackles.
While kick-starting an offense that showed a mish-mash of spread formation, pistol formation, no-huddle and motion packages this season, will be the top priority, a revamping of the special teams approach also wouldn't hurt.
Tech kicker Cody Journell (made 20 of 25 field-goal attempts) and punt returner Kyshoen Jarrett (seventh in the nation with 13.89 yards per punt return) were strong, but Tech hasn't blocked a kick or punt against a Bowl Subdivision opponent since the Boise State game to start the 2010 season.