Auburn, Ala.--It had been a long time coming, but Auburn fans finally got a glimpse of true freshman running back Roc Thomas in a game that was still very much undecided. While his play didn’t contribute to a victory for the Tigers as they fell 38-23 at Mississippi State, it showed what could be coming the rest of the 2014 season for Coach Gus Malzahn’s offense.Carrying the ball six times for 42 yards, Thomas displayed the explosion and ability to make guys miss that made him a five-star recruit in the 2013 signee class. With the power to finish runs and make plays, Thomas has always had the ability to run the football, but he said he now feels like he’s learned enough of the ins and outs of the offense and of playing college football to be an every-down back if called on for that assignment.
“I feel a lot more comfortable now,” Thomas said. “It’s kind of like when I played in high school and being that senior and getting all the carries. It’s pretty much like that, but I’m not getting all the carries. I just really know what to do.”
While senior Cameron Artis-Payne has been a solid option for Auburn’s running game, has not been the type of back who can take it the distance on the big play this year. That could be something Thomas can bring to the table if given more opportunities, something that could be coming said Malzahn.
“We just felt like it was about time,” Malzahn said. “We felt confident that Roc was comfortable. He did a very solid job for us. He’ll have bigger roles moving forward.”
Getting his touches the first five games exclusively late in the contest with Auburn in control, Thomas knew this week was going to be different. Included in the plan as the Tigers got ready for Mississippi State, he said it was a good week for him and he was glad to earn his shot at playing time.
“I was excited,” Thomas said. “In practice I was just really trying to get everything down and make sure I knew everything so when I went in I knew everything to do.”
Now Auburn has a bye week to heal some wounds and get ready to face South Carolina and get back on the winning track. That should give Thomas even more time to find his role in the Tigers’ offense, something he’s looking forward to.
“I think I did pretty good,” he said of his play on Saturday. “But, I think I can do a lot more stuff to help my team out.”
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