#79 Kenny Thomas
Position: Offensive Line
Hometown: Montgomery, AL
Thoughts: Thomas came into the program with a couple other big bodies and was presented to the fanbase as part of the solution for the offensive line woes of past. As a true freshman his performance, along with McNeil and Geron Christian, was encouraging looking forward. Then Kenny’s production in 2016 had me in a mental pretzel. He only started once and was limited to a backup role all year on a line that was frankly not performing well. Discouraging is a word that comes to mind...among others. So, last year I put out an APB for the Thomas of old, knowing he would have to get back on track in order for the Cards to have any chance of succeeding up front….and he totally redeemed himself!
Thomas not only started every single game, but was a solid piece of the best O-line play we’ve seen here in town in the last four or five season at least. The group up front once again helped lead the #3 offense in the country, gave up fewer sacks than any Cardinal team since 2013, and fewer tackles for loss (TFL) than any Cardinal team since 2008! (For a fanbase looking to build a statue every three or four years, someone should have commissioned the Mike Summers statue yesterday) Thomas was great up front and held his own against teams that brought a combination of speed and strength in the A Gap. The left side of the line played well enough that both Geron Christian and Kenny Thomas peeked at playing professionally when the season wrapped. Christian made the leap (3rd Round pick by Redskins) and Thomas stayed back to improve his game. One way he can do so...become a mentor up front.
Similar to most other prognosticators I think Thomas is a Day 1 starter in 2018 and will hold that spot all season unless an injury occurs. He’s proven he can play with consistency and has the stamina to be an every down player. Petrino called him out in the Spring for his leadership up front and I think the younger guys will look to him for guidance as they develop into the next wave of trench warriors. The offense is still a question mark as a new signal caller with a unique set of skills will run the show, meaning the responsibilities will change slightly for each position as the playbook shifts from one section to the other, but I trust in the experience of the upperclassmen and Coach Summers.
I’ve seen the articles about how Bama, Clemson, and the reemerging FSU squad are gonna push around the line and beat up on Puma, but I’m just not buying in. Sure, they’ll get occasional pressure, probably even register a sack or two each game, but you’ll never convince me that this group will be ill prepared for what anyone, including Bama, will bring at them. Cards may not win those games but Thomas, McNeil, Bentley, Becton, and the rest of the group will not let it be because of them. #OLineHypeTeam
Due to an overwhelming positive response (one random guy on twitter said he liked it) I will once again bring back the 2018 opponent key player reviews during the O-line recaps. I will also bring back my public acknowledgement that signing myself up for additional unnecessary work is a poor choice, but I just can’t tell you all (or at least that one random guy on twitter) no. Let’s do this!
Game 1: Alabama Crimson Tide
Key Player: Raekwon Davis, Defensive Line, Junior
The noob answer on this is to go “Tua, Tua, Tua, blah, blah, Tua” and so on but that’s not my style. First because there are 100 other people writing about him, and second because that’s not the right answer. Just as Alabama has proven time and time again over the last 10+ seasons, they can win A LOT of football games with a very bland offense getting very little production from the QB position. To beat Louisville by 28.5 points (current spread) or by 1 point, it will come down to how their defense bottles up Puma and the run game. A big reason that may happen is Raekwon Davis. Davis finished last year as one of the best defensive lineman in the country, racking up 8.5 sacks, 10 TFL, and 69 total tackles. He’s a projected Top 10 pick in the 2019 draft and his 6-7/306lb frame is not any easy load to stop once he gets going. I know I literally just said two paragraphs ago that I believe the Cards O-line can hold their own, and I still believe that, but a few big plays from Davis can change the whole game. For the Cards to have any shot in Orlando on September 1st Puma must have time and the run game must find holes. Shutting down Davis (and those other 5 star linemen) will be key.
I feel ya Kenny. Woke up two hours ago and not one person has wished me a happy Flag Day. Jerks.