Robert Thomas likes to “let his play do the talking for him”
Philip Zoppi – General Assignment Reporter
Robert Thomas is punishing defenses with his violent running style that he models after one of the great NFL running backs playing the game today.
“Everybody keeps telling me I’m like Eddie Lacy, even though I think I’m a little better at pass blocking than him,” said Thomas.
The senior and leading rusher for Southern said he likes to let his play do the talking for him.
Thomas is averaging 83.5 yards a game, which is good for 7th in the Northeast-10 Conference. He is also averaging 5.4 yards per carry and he takes great pride in that. Wearing down a defense is something that Thomas gets enjoyment out of.
“I definitely enjoy the pounding and going back and forth on the defense every play,” said Thomas. “You can do that with the offensive line that I have because each and every play they’re going to give me all they got.”
Thomas and the offensive line makes life on Robert Nittolo, the starting quarterback for Southern, a whole lot easier.
With Thomas averaging 5.4 yards per carry, that opens up the entire offense and makes Nittolo that much better of a quarterback. Nittolo thinks getting the running game going is one of the keys to success for the team.
“It’s a lot easier to play quarterback when I can hand the ball off and we’re getting eight or nine yards a pop,” said Nittolo. “When we run the ball like that and get one on one opportunities on the outside we then have a chance at a big play.”
Nittolo has been making the big play as he’s thrown for 14 touchdown passes already this season. Nittolo attributes a lot of his success to his offensive line and running game but another key factor he pointed out was Thomas’s pass blocking skills.
Before Thomas became the starter and star running back of the team, a lot of what he did was just pass protect. Pass blocking was already a strength for Thomas but he wants to work on it even more.
“I definitely take a lot of pride in pass blocking because before I started running the ball all I could do is block,” said Thomas. “I’m always trying to work on it.”
Nittolo can see this hard work paying off in game situations. Nittolo said he’s never scared of Thomas having to block a linebacker one on one because he knows he’s a physical guy and is going to step up into the hole.
Thomas’s superb blocking gave him the chance to have more opportunities running the football in his senior season. Thomas has already drastically outperformed what he did last year as a junior.
In 2014, as a junior, Thomas only rushed for 16 yards on nine rushes. In 2015, with three games to play, Thomas has already rushed for 668 yards on 123 attempts.
Thomas attributes a lot of his success to his effort. Eddie Lacy is also a high effort guy who is very hard to bring down so that’s one of the reasons Thomas is compared to him. Thomas tries to lead by example and leave everything he has on the field.
“Every game I just want to show what I got and show that I leave nothing in the tank,” said Thomas.
Photo Credit: SCSU Athletic Communications