Todd Thomas' move back to starting lineup pays immediate dividends for Pitt in win against New Mexico

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

When linebacker Todd Thomas was allowed to come back to the football team, it seemed like it would only be a matter of time before he would start again. Pitt's coaches did all the right things in making him earn that and today, Thomas got his wish.

Back in the starting lineup, Pitt had arguably their best linebacker back on the field to begin the game. And yeah, safe to say that he delivered.

Thomas recorded ten tackles in the game and was all over the field. His athleticism really adds another dimension to the defense since he just sits back and makes plays. Two that I were particularly impressed with came late in the game.

Sitting on a big lead, Thomas blew up a play on third down, even though he didn't really get credit for it from the announcers on TV. I went back to the broadcast (which you can watch on WatchESPN, by the way) and the defensive line was credited more for the stop than Thomas, who clearly sat back, made the read, and stepped up for the tackle. That forced a fourth down and Thomas then snuffed out a fake punt attempt, tackling the opposing player for a big loss.

Thomas also made a big play in the second quarter when he was in on a tackle on 2nd and goal, stopping Kasey Carrier short of the goal line. That helped Pitt to keep New Mexico to a field goal and out of the end zone.

It's pretty clear that he deserves to start and his size and speed really make him an elite player on defense. Pitt's pretty fortunate to have him and it's a good thing that Chryst allowed him to come back. He just makes that entire unit better.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and manager/editor of Cardiac Hill @AnsonWhaley

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