"Our guys played with a lot effort. Give Cincinnati a lot of credit, they're a pretty good football team across the board. Physically it was a struggle for us to stay with them," he said after reviewing tape of the 66-9 loss to the Bearcats (2-1).
The Demons (2-1) were overwhelmed as they fell behind 35-9 at halftime. Reserves played the fourth quarter for both teams.
Northwestern had a regular team meeting and a light workout at Turpin Stadium on Sunday night as the focus changed to another matchup with an FBS foe, UAB, on Saturday afternoon in Birmingham.
"We learned a lot about our guys facing adversity, and there's a lot of things we need to get corrected. We started working on that today, getting ready for UAB," he said. "We've had a lot of good things happen to us early in the season, and now we've discovered some things we needed to know. We're still in preparation for conference play beginning in a month."
While Thomas was smiling discussing the Demons' status, he wasn't happy.
"Yes, my motor's running hot right now. It's unpleasant being taken to the woodshed," he said.
"We helped inflict the wounds. Missed assignments, coming out of character at times, things we hadn't done the first two weeks. But when you cut everything else away, the overriding factor was the quality of our opponent."
Playing back-to-back FBS foes provides NSU with a fair measure to determine the team's strengths and shortcomings heading toward the Oct. 12 start of Southland Conference competition at Nicholls.
"We wanted to treat that game, and this next one, like we're playing the best FCS teams in the country and see how will we handle that challenge," said Thomas. "There's so much room for improvement, not just schematics, but a lot of different pieces of the puzzle that need to come together. The key now is how our young men react."