Antone Smith has had a great senior season thus far. There is no doubt that he is the number one back on Florida State's roster when healthy, but Smith has been banged up once again this season. He has been battling some bruised ribs and was held to limited action Saturday afternoon in Atlanta.
When it was time for Smith to get a breather, true freshman Jermaine Thomas was called upon to help out, and it didn't take long for him to make the best of his opportunity. Thomas carried the rock a total of nine times and racked up 130 yards. On Florida State's final drive, it was Thomas who put the team on his back and carried most of the load running downfield.
"It was wonderful. I just wanted to contribute to the team. I knew Deuce was a little banged up and I just wanted to come in there and just back him up," Jermaine said. "Once they put me in I was ready to go. It was a very exciting moment for me. I just cherished that moment. I just think about it all the time. If I could do it all the time, I would do the same thing."
Thomas had suffered a concussion the week before against Virginia Tech and had very limited practice time the week before his breakout game. Most expected that if Smith needed more rest, it would likely be someone other than Thomas giving him breathers.
"Not really (did he expect to play as much as he did), but I was really prepared. Once my number was called I didn't think that I was going to get in there as much as I did, but I felt like I did do my job."
Thomas said following his first practice since the Georgia Tech game that he had not felt that good during a game since he was in high school. He admits that limited playing time has played a role and the increased carries he received this weekend helped him find a groove.
"I feel like I just got in the flow during the game," Thomas said. "It's been hard so far because I get in for a play or two then sit out a couple of series' and then get another play. Finally getting to go in and play and get in the groove really got me going."
Following the game, both Coach Carter and Coach Fisher were very complimentary of Thomas' performance.
"They just told me that I did a good job and to be ready for next week. They said come into the game this week with the same attitude and mindset as last week and everything will work out."
If Thomas is going to perform like he did Saturday every time he touches the ball, it would be expected that his time on the field significantly increases.
"I'm not too sure about that. I did get in there a couple of extra reps in practice so far so hopefully that works over into the game this weekend."
Coach Fisher said during his weekly press conference that he would like to get Thomas more involved in the passing game as he has shown in practice that he could very well be an asset used catching the ball out of the backfield.
"For me personally, I think that's one of my specialties," Thomas said. "I did that a lot in high school and I really feel that I can help out in that area."
Thomas was one of the most underrated running backs in his class and is beginning to show why. Look for the Jacksonville native to become a larger part of the offense in coming weeks, and especially in coming years.