D3′s Corner: Marrow has kept the faithWritten by Mike Bauman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE: This is the 15th installment of a weekly series in which staff writer Mike Bauman will follow sixth-year Toledo senior cornerback Desmond Marrow for the 2011 season.
After giving up 126 combined points and 1,167 offensive yards to its opponents in its previous two games, Toledo and sixth-year senior cornerback Desmond Marrow held Central Michigan to 17 points and 346 yards of total offense in a 44-17 victory over the Chippewas on Nov. 18.
With just one regular season game remaining in his collegiate career, the Youngstown native reflected on his journey to this point.
“I would say the main thing is just keeping the faith through any situation no matter what it was, just to know that [when] I was injured that I would be back and I’d still be playing,” Marrow said in a recent interview. “And even though we were losing, like, one day would come when we’d be a winning team. And all those things have come true; just sticking with the dream and the plan.”
Marrow tied for second on the team with five tackles and had one pass breakup in the road tilt with CMU. He also got his team-leading third interception of the season on Central Michigan’s first possession of the second half, picking off Ohio native Ryan Radcliff at the UT 31-yard line on a pass that hit Marrow right in the numbers.
“That was basically a gift,” Marrow said of the interception. “I just had to catch it. I mean, it’s great to get picks. You always want to get interceptions, so it was a good thing.”
As has been the case in several of the Rockets’ matchups this season, the UT defense again played with multiple players at different positions, including Marrow. For the second consecutive contest, Marrow started the game at free safety before moving back to his natural cornerback position.
“Whatever they need me to do, I’ll do it to help the team win,” Marrow said. “It’s fun. It’s a lot going on. You’ve got a lot more to read, but you’ve just got to go out and make plays.”
Toledo was without junior defensive tackle Danny Farr, who missed the contest due to a shoulder injury. Senior “star” safety Charles “BoBo” Rancifer and senior cornerback Taikwon Paige did not start the first quarter of the game on defense, while junior “star” safety Byron Best started the contest at the boundary cornerback position. Freshman John James, who wasn’t on the team’s two-deep depth chart as of Nov. 14, started at the field cornerback position.
Even with the lineup changes, the Rockets (7-4, 6-1 Mid-American Conference) limited the Chippewas (3-9, 2-6 MAC) to an average of 5.7 yards per play and one third down conversion in 11 tries.
“It’s just a lot of pressure,” Marrow said on how the defense bounced back. “You want to step up. You don’t want to just depend on the offense to bail you out every week, and as a defensive player you take it kind of personally. So you want to come out and do your best.”
Toledo will close out the regular season against Ball State (6-5, 4-3 MAC) the day after Thanksgiving on Nov. 25.
“I think it’s just something that happens in the Mid-American [Conference],” UT head coach Tim Beckman said. “It happens at Oklahoma State and Ohio State when we were there, too. We had to go through Thanksgiving. That’s part of college football. We’ve got one more opportunity to play together and we’ll see where that leads us.
“We know somebody’s got to do something for us to get us in that [MAC] championship game, but these kids still believe that they can be champs. We’re going to play like we’re going to have a possibility to be a champ.”
Beckman said the Rockets will practice Wednesday morning and that he will give players an opportunity to go home before the team travels to Muncie, Ind. to face the Cardinals.
“The kids that are local hopefully will take some of our kids that aren’t local from Florida or [elsewhere] and take them to their house, have a little turkey and then we’ll get them back on Thursday and we’ll travel,” Beckman said.
Toledo needs both a victory over Ball State as well as an Eastern Michigan win over Northern Illinois to get into the MAC Championship at Ford Field on Dec. 2. With one game left and hope for a championship still alive, Marrow is thankful for those who have been along for the ride.
“I’m thankful for my family and my Rocket family and fans for all believing in me,” Marrow said.
Kickoff for UT’s matchup with BSU is slated for 2 p.m. and will air on ESPNU and ESPN3.