No more jitters for Marshall’s Thomson
He held the ball too long.
That’s the most valid critique of Alex Thomson’s premiere as Marshall University’s starting quarterback.
The 6-foot-5, 233-pound junior stood tall in the pocket in Marshall’s 34-24 loss to Middle Tennessee, but his reads and decision-making took a bit too long.
It should come as no surprise.
After all, this was Thomson’s first live action in 13 months coming back from a shoulder injury. Besides that, there was the adjustment of moving up from FCS at Wagner College and the increased velocity of the game at the FBS level.
So, there was bound to be an adjusting curve.
It showed in Thomson’s uneven performance.
In the first quarter of his debut, Thomson was only 1-for-5 passing for 14 yards with two sacks. But in the second quarter, he improved to 5-for-8 for 52 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Then, in the third period, Thomson struggled while completing only one of four passes for three yards.
But he began to settle in during the fourth quarter, completing 10 of 17 passes for 104 yards with one touchdown, despite getting sacked four times. Thomson finished 17 of 34 for 173 yards with two touchdowns, one interception and six sacks.
None of this is news to Thomson. He is well aware of the highs and lows of his debut.
“Oh, I think it was an up and down performance,” said Thomson, matter-of-factly. “I like to get in a rhythm and I didn’t, but as the game progressed, I got more comfortable playing again.
“That was my first game in a year. I know it’s a lot different, too, between FCS and FBS.”
Yet, he isn’t buying into the premise of FBS play being a lot faster-paced than FCS.
“I would say the speed ... it’s not the same,” said Thomson. “But it’s not like this great jump. I don’t think that was a factor. I think it was just nerves about playing football again. I think that was the biggest thing for me.
“But as the game progressed, I got more comfortable playing and more comfortable with having guys in my face. So, I think that’s something I’ve got to take while moving forward.”
As for rust, he didn’t feel any physically.
“I practiced all week, so there wasn’t really any rust,” said Thomson. “I think it was more game situations. You know, when you are in a red jersey at practice no one can touch you.
“That’s a little different when guys are in your face and you know they can actually hit you. That might have been the most rust for me ... having guys in my face and knowing you have to get rid of the ball, actually. You know they’re not just going to run by you like in practice situations.”
The best news?
Thomson was sore the next day.
“Oh, yeah, I was definitely sore,” he said with a grin. “But it was a good sore. It wasn’t a bad feeling or anything. The hits are what football is all about. I didn’t get hit too hard. My shoulder? It is 100 percent. I could have thrown 40 more times if we had asked for it. I’m all good witah the shoulder.”
And as for not holding the ball so long?
“He’ll do a better job of getting the ball out of his hand this week,” said MU coach Doc Holliday.
Thomson will be better Saturday vs. Old Dominion.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.