HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- When Derrick Thomas arrived at Marshall in August, he had a lot of catching up to do.
The Penn State transfer had the talent, Coach Doc Holliday said. He just hadn't spent much time in the Thundering Herd's defensive system and, after joining the team during the fourth practice of the preseason, he had to learn a lot on the fly.
These days, Thomas is feeling a lot more comfortable in Marshall's secondary. He's started the last two games at corner and that trend should continue when the Herd (3-4, 2-1 Conference USA) hosts Central Florida (5-2, 3-0) at 8 p.m. Saturday (CBS Sports Network).
Thomas, a redshirt junior, said it was just as important for Marshall's veteran defenders to get used to him and the rest of this year's newcomers, as it was for him to get used to them. The bye week, he said, came at a great time and allowed everyone to mesh.
"I didn't really feel comfortable and probably would never feel comfortable until the whole defense was comfortable," Thomas said.
"I don't think I could get comfortable until the defense was comfortable as a whole. After everyone just got on the same page, I just felt more comfortable."
Thomas has three starts in seven games and is one of Marshall's more prolific tacklers, recording 28 with 14 solo, a tackle for loss and two pass breakups. It's also helped that coaches are allowing their defensive backs to play more man-to-man coverage, Thomas said.
"I think that's helping us because that lets the guys in the box do pretty much what they want to do, and they can focus on the run," he said.
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HERD KICKER Justin Haig doesn't ignore his roots at other positions as a member of the Herd's kickoff team. He recorded three solo tackles against Southern Mississippi.