Greensboro, N.C. – Jeremiah Attaochu got his arm around Logan Thomas Sunday. Once again, the Georgia Tech linebacker didn’t take him down to the ground.
Instead, he smiled and mugged for the camera with the Virginia Tech quarterback. Attaochu, who threw a punch out of frustration at Thomas in the Yellow Jackets’ 37-26 loss to the Hokies last season, has not just moved past the incident. The Hokies star that he’ll be chasing around in the season opener Sept. 3 in Blacksburg, Va., is now a buddy.
“We’ve talked,” Attaochu said Sunday from ACC Media Days. “He’s cool.”
Said Thomas, “He’s a funny guy. No hard feelings.”
The friendship adds a twist to the Hokies-Jackets’ rivalry, which has produced the ACC Coastal Division champion every year since the league split into two divisions in 2005. Last November, Thomas wrecked the Jackets, rifling the defense for 209 passing yards and three touchdowns on just 13 attempts and bulling his way for 70 rushing yards. He plowed through the Jackets for a 12-yard touchdown on a quarterback sneak that gave the Hokies a third-quarter lead it never gave up.
That drive was extended by one of the most pivotal plays of Tech’s season. On a third-down pass play, Attaochu jumped on Thomas but couldn’t tackle him. In what he called an “out-of-body competitive reaction,” Attaochu swung a closed fist at Thomas, drawing an unnecessary roughness penalty. Coach Paul Johnson suspended him for the first half of the following game, against Duke.
“It’s something that’s never going to happen again,” Attaochu said Sunday.
Attaochu later texted and spoke with Thomas to apologize.
“He was just messing around, saying, ‘Man, you’re a [defensive] end playing quarterback. You’re bigger than I am,’” said the 6-foot-6, 262-pound Thomas. “’How am I supposed to take you down?’”
Thomas accepted the apology.
“I was like, Man, I understand,” he said. “I would probably do the same thing if I was having the trouble that they were at that time.”
While Virginia Tech will have to replace its leading rusher (David Wilson), two leading receivers (Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale) and four offensive linemen, Thomas will be no less difficult to stop. He said Sunday he has improved his footwork and accuracy this summer. Attaochu knows applying pass rush pressure and not allowing Thomas any escape routes out of the pocket will be important. He spoke with admiration about the drill work that the Tech defensive line has done this summer to impove the pass rush. Once again, though, getting Thomas on the ground will be a different challenge.
“There’s nothing you can do” to prepare for Thomas, he said. “You might need to get Cam Newton on your scout team.”
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog