The University of Arkansas defense is praised by head coach Bobby Petrino, who also knows his…
Thomas nabs SEC, National defensive awards
Thomas (6-0, 198) earned the award with 7 tackles, 2 fumble recoveries and a game-ending interception in the No. 12 Razorbacks' 24-17 win over Texas A&M Saturday in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
He added a national award on Tuesday with the FWAA/Bronko Nagurski Defensive Player of the Week going to him.
"He had a great game," Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino said of Thomas. "He's done a nice job for us all year. First of all, he really understands the package back there, he helps other guys in their alignment and with what's going on, he's a very physical tackler and he plays the ball well in the air. You can't say enough about him, and the big play at the end of the game obviously was a huge play for us. He's done a great job all year. He played a lot of plays and didn't get to come out at all because Andru (Stewart) was a bit dinged up."
Thomas has 23 tackles this season and 2 interceptions as he has solidified his starting spot in the secondary and earned the respect of cornerback Ramon Broadway, who joins him as a member of the "Brick Squad" – the nickname the secondary has given itself.
He has adopted the name T-Pain.
"I'm so proud of him," Broadway said. "He's one of the leaders in the brick squad. I'm proud of how his game has stepped up this year. Knowing that he has my back has helped me be able to play with so much more confidence."
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Arkansas' game at Auburn on Saturday will be at 2:30 p.m. and nationally televised by CBS. The Razorbacks found out on Monday that they will then host Ole Miss the following Saturday at 11:20 a.m. in a game on the SEC Network.
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South Carolina's win over No. 1 Alabama put the Razorbacks' SEC Western Division and overall title hopes back in their own hands.
LSU now leads the West at 4-0 while Auburn is 3-0, Alabama 2-1, Arkansas and Ole Miss 1-1 and Mississippi State is 1-2.
South Carolina and Vanderbilt are the only 1-loss teams in the SEC East and the Razorbacks play both of them later this season.
"All we do is worry about ourselves, but we have an opportunity now to accomplish our goal," Petrino said. "It is still out there in front of us, but to do that we have got to go to Auburn and play great football and come away with the win."
That message has clearly filtered down to his team.
"The thing is, we have to stay focused," Broadway said. " We can't control what anyone else is doing. We aren't putting too much into Alabama losing, or Auburn being a ranked and undefeated team. We just have to control what we are able to, and if we don't then someone else will."
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One area that will get a lot of work in practice this week will be the kickoff return game according to Petrino.
The loss of school record-holder Dennis Johnson and lead blocker Seth Armbrust to injuries left that area of special teams needing help.
True freshman Maudrecus Humphrey was replaced in the last game by junior Joe Adams, but to no avail.
"We are not doing a good job of blocking it and we are getting big a couple of times on individual breakdowns and we have got a lot of work to do this week," Petrino said. "We are not very happy with it."
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