Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas, the only three-time team captain in team history, has a bigger job this week than most.
On the heels of back-to-back home losses to No. 3 Clemson and No. 10 Miami, Thomas shares the task of keeping his team pointed in the right direction in the face of another formidable challenge – a road trip to Pittsburgh Saturday, where a loss most likely knocks the Yellow Jackets out of the ACC Coastal race. Thomas, who has been urged by coach Paul Johnson to take more of an in-front leadership role with the team, wants to take it on.
“Just staying positive, not getting down, not talking down to anybody,” Thomas said of his role. “Just keeping everybody upbeat. Nobody’s down right now. Of course, we’re upset We felt like, if we took care of our business (against Miami), we should have won. But we’ve got six, seven, however many more games left, and we still can kind of control our own destiny, depending on what happens. We’ve just got to keep on playing, stay positive and finish out the season.”
Last year, the Jackets did not meet the challenges of the season, never fully recovering from the loss at Notre Dame in the third game of the season and finishing at 3-9, the team’s worst season since 1994.
Thomas’ position coach, Bryan Cook, sees a similarity between Tech’s circumstances and 2014, when the Jackets went to Pittsburgh after losing back-to-back conference games. Tech came home with a wild 56-28 win that propelled the Jackets to its 11-win season.
“To bounce back off two losses and go on the road and win a game isn’t going to be easy, so you need to rely on some guys that have been in that situation,” Cook said. “(Thomas) did it in 2014 – we came off back-to-back losses and went up there and won a conference game on the road, so it’s not going to be easy, but, yeah, I think senior leadership’s important.”