Something in his voice Saturday after the Sooners’ win hinted that he wanted to be alone to self-inflict his punishment – to make it sting more.
There was also a heavy dose of remorse in his voice over his actions that caused him to miss Oklahoma’s non-conference finale.
“This is a lot bigger than me,” Thomas said speaking to the media for the first time since his one-game suspension. “It’s not just about me. It’s not just about Jordan. It’s about the University of Oklahoma as well as everyone who comes out and supports. That’s millions and millions of people.”
Against West Virginia, he made a big pass break-up late in the first half to deny a scoring opportunity for the Mountaineers (3-1, 1-0). He then hauled in his first career interception, almost taking it back for a touchdown.
He didn’t care about the score, at least not if it was his score.
“I really didn’t care for me at that point,” said Thomas, who let the team down according to Bob Stoops with his suspension last week. “I was just to glad that I put my team in a position to score. If I had scored myself, that would have been cool. But it’s not about me. I just want to do good for my team at this point. I made a big play. That was all.”
Thomas was never sure if he’d get his starting spot back as he watched the Tulsa passing attack eat up his teammates. Nor did he think it would be guaranteed playing time during the two weeks leading up to Oklahoma Big 12 Conference opener.
He did win it back. Stoops was satisfied.
“He’s really improved from a year ago,” Stoops said. “He’s shown in the last week or two some responsibility and accountability to the team. He did things the right way and he really had a big game.”
Next for Thomas is proving that he again deserves to be labeled as a mature player, a tag that followed him around all of last year. He said that it’s important for him for his teammates, who were upset by his suspension, and the fans to see him that way again.
Saturday was a start.
“I’m happy for him that he bounced back and came up big for us (Saturday),” Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. “He needed that. I’m sure he feels a lot better about himself and his game. He’s growing as a person and as a player.”
A dominant color of yellow
Oklahoma and West Virginia combined for 245 penalty yards on 23 penalties – an average of more than 10 yards per infraction.
The game was physical and chippy from the beginning with a scuffle in the southwest corner of the field even before kick-off.
“The guys were ready to go and sometimes you get a little overexcited and maybe do a little too much that don’t go with the rules,” Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker said. “It’s a physical game. That’s kind of what happens with the game. It’s unfortunate, but guys came out ready to play real physical.”
Oklahoma’s 134 penalty yards was a season-high.
Running woes continue for OU
For the third time in four games this season, the Sooners offense failed to gain more than 170 yards on the ground. All Big-12 running back Samaje Perine had less than 80 for the third game too.
An offense that once lived on the run has been shut down.
“(It) needs to continue to grow and improve,” Bob Stoops said. “Believe it will.”
Oklahoma had a season-low 3.2 yards per carry against West Virginia.
Shepard finding his groove as a returner
Oklahoma receiver Sterling Shepard has had his fair share of issues as the Sooners’ punt returner. Last year and early this year, Shepard’s decision making was suspect – to say the least.
He had some chances against West Virginia and made the most of them. He disguised a few touchbacks, made the right decisions with the fair catch and had a 27-yard return to switch field position.
“Sterling didn't have a lot of them, but it was great,” Bob Stoops said.
Perine hits career mark
In the first half, Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine surpassed the 2,000-yardage mark for his career. He did it faster than any other player in Oklahoma history.
He surpassed DeMarco Murray, needing only 325 carries to hit the milestone.
Quick finally makes an impact
It had been three long games for Michiah Quick, who wasn’t on the two-deep to start the season.
He said Saturday after hauling three catches for 69 yards, each made a big difference in the game, that he’s matured a bit. He finally got a few opportunities, too.
“My opportunities just weren’t there yet, said Quick, who didn’t know how close he was to the sideline on his upheld catch in the first half. “(Saturday), they were and I took advantage of them.