Early playing time with the game was still on the line -- it was a whole new experience for Thomas, who hadn't seen many critical snaps during his young Clemson career.
Offensive coordinator Chad Morris urged Thomas to quickly get adjusted.
"It's time for you to grow up now," Morris said, as he recalled on Monday what he told Thomas on Saturday.
"We've tried to force you to have to grow up during practice. You've got to grow up when people are counting on you."
With David Smith already sidelined because of a shoulder injury, Thomas knew he was the third guard up against the defending national champions.
He was ready to answer the call when Morris turned to him for good in the second quarter.
"I was prepared for it. Throughout the week, I practiced hard. They told me I would be getting some playing time, regardless," Thomas said. "I didn't feel rushed. I felt like I was comfortable going in there."
There was, he admitted, a certain level of newness to playing when he did.
"When I went in there, I felt like it was a new beginning," Thomas said. "When I went in there, I felt like this was a new beginning for me, because I'm in there early. I'm not used to going in the games early."
That eventually wore off and his confidence began to grow.
"I went out there, kind of walking with a swagger with the first team," he said.
Thomas played well enough to warrant consideration as a fixture at left guard.
"I think the way that Brandon played, I think it's Brandon's [starting job] right now, today, Monday," Morris said. "When we go through inside period tomorrow, it may be somebody else's job.
"Right now, I think, the way he played, he played well enough to earn a start, at least earn a start for Monday's practice, or Tuesday's practice."
Morris is excited about the possibility of seeing Thomas live up to his potential and force his way into the starting lineup.
"I want him to have the same excitement for himself. We hope we see that. I think we will," Morris said.
For Thomas, the next step quite simple.
"It's a big opportunity for me," he said. "I'm going to try to make the most of it."
Brandon Thomas growing up
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