As I sit and reminisce on the Fiesta bowl and the performances of Oregon players, I can’t help but be impressed by one particular player: De’Anthony Thomas. This got me thinking about his bowl performances in comparison to season outputs. Don’t get me wrong, he thrives during the regular season, but it is apparent that he is a beast in bowl games.
Some players don’t like the long lay off between the regular season and the post season. A lot of them need at least a quarter to shake off the rust and return to mid-season form. Not the Black Mamba; he got the Fiesta bowl started off right by taking the opening kick 94 yards for a touchdown. Don’t forget that Kansas State had a month, give or take, to game plan for Oregon’s playmakers. Most teams throughout the year refused to even kick the ball to him, opting kick it high and short giving Oregon great field position. Yeah, he’s that dangerous!
During the 2011 season Thomas rushed 53 times for 440 yards and 5 touchdowns. He caught 42 passes for 571 yards and 9 touchdowns, returned 3 punts for 52 yards, and returned 31 kicks for 858 yards and 2 touchdowns. That is a whopping 1,921 yards and 16 touchdowns as a true freshman. The season averages on those are 8.3 yards per rush, 13.6 yards per catch, 17.3 yards per punt, and 27.7 yards per kick return. Thomas averaged 14.9 yards per touch during the season
During the Rose Bowl the Black Mamba rushed 2 times for 155 yards and 2 touchdowns, caught 4 passes for 34 yards, and returned 5 kicks for 125 yards. That is a total of 314 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 11 touches. The averages are through the roof at 77.5 yards per rush, 8.5 yards per catch, and 25 yards per kick return. Thomas averaged 28.5 yards per touch during the Rose Bowl — not bad!
Due to the early domination of opponents in 2012 Thomas saw his totals drop a little, but still had a great season. He rushed 90 times for 686 yards and 11 touchdowns, caught 41 passes for 385 yards and 4 touchdowns, and returned 13 punts for 222 yards and 1 touchdown. Most teams refused to kick the ball to Thomas during the season, so he only had 14 kick returns for for 269 yards. That is a total of 1,562 yards and 16 touchdowns. During the season he averaged 7.6 yards per rush, 9.4 yards per catch, 17.1 yard per punt, and 19.21 yards per kick return. Thomas averaged 9.9 yards per touch during the season.
During the Fiesta Bowl Thomas carried the ball 2 times for 15 yards, caught 4 passes for 60 yards and 1 touchdown, and returned 2 kicks for 120 yards and 1 touchdown. That is a total of 195 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 8 touches. He averaged 7.5 yards per rush, 15 yards per catch, and 60 yards per kick return. Thomas averaged 24.4 yards per touch during the Fiesta Bowl.
His season career totals are 3,483 yards with 32 touchdowns on 287 touches. His career bowl totals are 509 yards and 4 touchdowns on 19 touches. This breaks down to a 12.1 yard average per touch during the season compared to a 26.8 yard average per touch during bowl games. Thomas is great during the season, but he is spectacular during bowl games when Oregon needs a big play.
If the numbers aren’t enough to convince you, don’t forget he has appeared in only two bowl games, yet holds a record for each bowl. His 94 yard kick return was the only time in Fiesta Bowl history that any player has taken the opening kick off back for a touchdown. He also holds the record for the longest touchdown run in the history of the Rose Bowl at 91 yards.
It is needless for me to say that De’Anthony Thomas is a spectacular player, because the numbers speak for themselves. But in reflection, one thing is clear to me…the Black Mamba loves to go bowling!!