Without question, the Pitt defense got a big boost on Saturday, as junior linebacker Todd Thomas returned to the starting lineup.
Thomas left training camp after opening as the backup at outside linebacker. He left the team on August 7, after going through that first day.
He returned to the team a week later, finishing out training camp. He did play as a reserve in the Florida State game, then returned to the starting lineup today. He finished tied for the team-lead with 10 tackles, including two for losses.
"It was a blessing that Coach (Paul Chryst) let me back," Thomas said after the game. "It feels great."
Thomas said when he came back to the team, Chryst told him it was up to the team whether to let him back or not. According to those around him, that didn't sound like much of a tough decision.
"(Chryst) said it's up to the team to let me come back," Thomas said. "Then I talked to the seniors and they said that they wanted me back, I just had to change a little bit. I had to stay humble and I changed for the team, and I'm happy about that.".
Thomas put an exclamation point on the game in the fourth quarter. New Mexico attempted a fake punt on a 4th-and-3. Thomas snuffed it out from the start, dropping Jhurell Pressly for a loss of seven.
"We went through it all week," Thomas said. "That was my key, that was my read and I just did what I had to do and I just did my job."
Chryst also said afterwards, what it meant having Thomas back.
"He had been doing some good things in practice, so it was good to get him a significant number of snaps," Chryst added.
Here is Thomas' complete post-game interview: