After going down last spring with a shoulder injury, Thomas Carroll reclaimed his starting position in the 38-13 win at Houston. Carroll says that he is healthy and ready to play.
"I really don't look at it as starting and not starting, cause we are all going to get the same amount of reps, I feel healthy now and that is all that really matters" Carroll said. "There were a couple of things I had to work on (in fall practice). Cause I sat out during the spring. I hadn't played since the Orange Bowl so I worked on it in the fall and I tried to carry it over to the season."
Carroll's hard work has shown so far this season. In four games the 6-foot-5 230-pounder has 10 tackles, two of which were for a loss of eight yards, and one sack. So far Thomas likes what he sees out of the defensive unit, ranked third in the nation in total defense and second in scoring defense.
"I feel we are doing are part. We got a great secondary and great linebackers, so it's all a defensive team effort."
With the defensive line being a strength this year for the defense, Carroll is rotated in and out during the game, sharing time with as many as five defensive ends. While this group is very competitive, they are also close and hang out during the week.
"Everybody is getting a good amount of reps. Both ends are working both sides, so we got a good rotation going on," Carroll said. "We'll have a karaoke night. We usually eat out on the Thursday night before the game, sometimes at Hooters or sometimes at people's houses."
While each lineman brings his own specialty to the table, Thomas believes that his strength on the field is knowing where he is supposed to be at all times and helping his teammates know there positions.
"My strength on the field is my knowledge of the defense," Carroll said. "I feel I know our defense just as well as anybody on it. So I know where I am supposed to be for my position and where everybody else is supposed to be. So, if I don't hear or see what the coach is signaling in, I can look at my surroundings and know what kind of defense we are going to be in and I can help whoever is next to me."
With his shoulder injury behind him, Thomas Carroll looks to pick up where he left off last season and become an even better player.
"There were a couple plays last year I missed because I didn't really know how the defense worked in the first couple games," Carroll said. "But towards the end of the season, it all picked up and I got used to the speed of the game again. Plays that I might have missed last year, I expect to make this fall."