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NC State Football

Thayer Thomas: "They Play A Lot Of Different Coverages"

September 16, 2022

NC State wide receiver Thayer Thomas met with the media to discuss his start to the season and the upcoming matchup against Texas Tech.

NOTE: Click the video above to watch the interview.

On studying punting film...
I definitely have to study that stuff. If we're playing somebody that's from Australia, usually Mackenzie Morgan – who is here -- knows him because they all come from the same pool of guys. He usually helps me out, give me some detailed stuff on them.

Then, obviously, I'll reach out to Trenton Gill. Even now, he texts me about the Texas Tech guy; he's pretty good so he knows him a little bit. So I will reach out to guys that I know to give me some tips and pointers because at the end of the day, fielding punts is really hard, and it's really something you got to be really good at, so I just got to make sure that I'm on all my Ps & Qs of just knowing what I need to do and take it very seriously.

What is it, the spin on the ball or something?
Yeah, so the first week, we played a rugby guy who's Australian, so he did a lot of different stuff. He kicked line drives, did different things. Then last week was a lefty, so then it's a different spin than a righty guy where I usually face.

Then I would have to catch some jugs that spin the opposite way because the ball tails differently. It's a lot that goes into it; just catching punts is definitely a skill that's really hard.

Houston had a punt returned for a touchdown, just the flag took it back. Anything you learned from that when you see another team score?
Yeah, it gives you confidence that the opportunities will be there. And with this guy, he's a really good punter, he's got a strong leg. But then again, I got to look at that as he maybe out kick his coverage a few times, so when he does that, definitely take advantage of it.

What are some of the advantages you see when you look at Texas Tech on tape and everything, for your offense?
Yeah, some advantages I see, definitely they play a lot of different coverages, and then again, sometimes they get mixed up because they play so many. Sometimes half the field plays one coverage, and half the field plays another coverage, so sometimes they get mixed up, and we can take advantage of that by just playing fast and making them run sideline to sideline and stuff like that. But they're a really good defense overall.

Is there a little bit more juice when you're playing a Power Five team at home? Under the lights?
Yeah, but then again, for me is, I look at every Saturday as an opportunity for me go out and play football. So even last Saturday, I know my games are limited and football is limited, so I just enjoy every moment. But then again, playing under the lights against a big Power Five team, it's going to be special to go out there this Saturday.

As you're trying to build the program and get name recognition, everything, how important are these opportunities to capitalize?
Yeah, for sure. I know we've had quite a few opportunities to play some other Power Five teams out of conference, and we haven't made the best of the opportunity. So we're just looking forward to the opportunity to, once again, just prove ourselves and just compete on Saturday and just show the nation what we can do.

Is that something y'all talk about or is that just something you know?
That's just something I know. We don't really talk about it just because year to year you have different teams, and then also we just want to take it one game at a time. And it doesn't really matter who we're playing, I think we focus on ourselves getting better. We usually take care of business.

We've asked a few guys recently, we mentioned the lights. How excited are you to see the red lights?
Yeah, I've walked out a couple times at nighttime after watching film and stuff, and they're testing them out and they seem really cool, so definitely excited to see that.

What gives you a bigger thrill? Catching a big pass or running back a punt? Maybe not for a touchdown, but just a nice return.
I would probably say, is this pass a touchdown or is this a big pass?

Well, like a third down completion...
Okay. I definitely would say a punt return, just because they're hard to come by, and then I think it just helps set up the offense, like Coach talks about complimentary football. If I can get the ball past the 50, then we're almost guaranteed some type of points in that drive. So I feel responsible for helping the team in that aspect. So punt returns are definitely something that I take advantage of and try to help the team out with.

What's more frightening, catching a punt, knowing guys are coming at you full speed, or going over the middle knowing you might be...
I would say catching a punt just because the team's on your back, and you don't get any do overs. If you go across the middle on a pass and they hit, you hit, and it's deflected next play, you can make up for it but, I don't like speaking negatively about that stuff, but it's a tough job. I feel like I'm the right guy for it. I've been doing it for a while, so I'm excited to just continue to help this team do it.

I'm just curious, when you're playing a team like Texas Tech, who wants to run 100 plays or running fast and everything, what does that do for your offense? Your defense could be facing a lot of plays and stuff and everything, but what does it do for your offense to see that, and then it's like, "Okay, do we have to keep up with scoring or?" How's that affect your side of ball?
Yeah, I think our mindset is, if they're a fast-paced team that we're really good on getting a lot of three and outs on defense. They're going to be in a tough situation because we can have the ball and the time of possession and we'll be on our side, just because we're a team that methodically gets first downs. And we play fast at times.

But if a team is playing fast and disregards time of possession and all that stuff, I feel like we can really take advantage of that. I think last year, I mean Clemson doesn't play that fast, but I think what won us that game was, I think, the time of possession and keeping the defense off the field.

'Cause I think the offense had almost like 100 plays that game, and the defense only had 60. I felt like it really wore down the Clemson defense by the overtimes. They were tired. We have that mindset of, we just do what we do, we'll be fine.

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