Virginia Tech coach Brent Pry isn’t ready to say that running back Malachi Thomas will be cleared to play Saturday against North Carolina. He also isn’t ready to rule him yet, either.

Thomas practiced Wednesday and seems to be trending in the right direction prior to kickoff from Chapel Hill. The sophomore has yet to play this season after suffering a foot injury before the start of the season.

Here’s a clip of Thomas working out at practice on Wednesday:

The expectation is that Thomas will be the team’s lead back whenever he is officially cleared to play. Last season, the Georgia native totaled 440 yards and 3 touchdowns off 93 carries. He also averaged 4.7 yards per play and finished with 2 100-plus rushing games.

The return of Thomas is critical for the Hokies to turn their season around. Sitting at 2-2 with losses to West Virginia and Old Dominion, the run game is currently averaging 3.1 yards per carry. Keshawn King is the team’s leading rusher in yards with 179, but Jalen Holsten has more carries (45). Combined, the duo has 3 of the Hokies’ 4 rushing touchdowns.

The Tar Heels are coming off a tough home loss against Notre Dame. Quarterback Drake Maye threw for 301 yards and 5 touchdowns, but the defense allowed Irish QB Drew Pyne to throw for 289 yards and 3 TD’s en route to a 45-32 win. The Tar Heels’ defense allowed the Irish to tally a season-high 576 yards of offense.

Kickoff Saturday from Kenan Memorial Stadium at 3:30 p.m. ET.