Marrow, team have confidence in CampbellWritten by Mike Bauman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE: This is the 18th installment of a weekly series in which staff writer Mike Bauman will follow sixth-year Toledo senior cornerback Desmond Marrow for the 2011 season.
When you’re skilled enough to play football at the collegiate level, there’s a certain level of respect you have for those who came before you.
That respect is a vital factor as to why sixth-year senior cornerback Desmond Marrow and his teammates have stood in the corner of UT head coach Matt Campbell since Tim Beckman’s departure. The team is confident heading into its Military Bowl matchup with Air Force on Dec. 28 in Washington, D.C.
“He definitely hasn’t missed a beat,” Marrow said of Campbell, who took over the Rockets’ football program Dec. 9 and was named the team’s new head coach Dec. 12. “Coach Campbell does his job so well. He’s a player’s coach, but at the same time he has that respect from the players. So we know, like, when to do things right.
“There’s a time to play around and have fun, but he’s about business. The players know that and we all respect him. So when you respect someone, you kind of just want to do good for them and you’ll play hard for anybody.”
A Massillon, Ohio, native, Campbell won three national championships as a player at Mount Union, where he racked up 207 tackles, 49 tackles for loss and 22 sacks in his career. Campbell also stood out among his peers, twice earning First Team All-American honors and twice being named the Ohio Athletic Conference’s Best Defensive Lineman in addition to garnering CoSIDA Academic All-America honors.
“Anytime anybody’s telling you something in life, it always means a little bit more and you may listen a little bit more when you know that they’ve been through it or they’ve actually done it,” Marrow said. “So I mean, coming from a great player like that, you definitely know that he knows what he’s talking about, that he’s not just saying anything. Like, he’s really speaking the truth because he’s actually been there and played. And [he] played at a high level.”
At 32 years old, Campbell is the youngest head football coach at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level in the NCAA. Having been part of five national championships as a player and a coach at Mount Union and with a coaching résumé that dates back to 2003, leading Toledo into a bowl for his first game as a head coach is not intimidating to Campbell.
“I’m used to playing these kind of football games,” Campbell said in his introductory news conference as the Rockets’ new head football coach. “To be honest with you, in my coaching career there’s only one time that I haven’t had the opportunity to play in a postseason game. So for me, it’s business as usual because I expect to be playing for championships in November and bowl games in December.”
Featuring two of the top 20 offenses in the nation, the Military Bowl is already being billed as a shootout by many around the country, something that Marrow doesn’t let ruffle his feathers as a defensive player.
“I mean, if you’re worried about that stuff then that stuff will just happen,” Marrow said. “So you’ve just got to go out there and play the game; just play every game as its own season.”
UT ranks No. 8 in the nation in total offense with an average of 493.17 yards per game, while Air Force is No. 2 nationally in rushing (320.33 ypg) and No. 19 in total offense (458.83 ypg).
“It’s a big challenge,” Marrow said. “We’ve just got to be disciplined as players. Everyone [needs to] do their job and we’ve got to tackle well.”
Marrow also knows the potential challenge of the atmosphere at the rustic RFK Stadium, given that the Rockets will play a military academy in a bowl game named after the military, which gives free tickets to the military.
“It’s nothing different for us,” Marrow said. “I mean, it pretty much seems like everything is against us anyways at Toledo. We always kind of get some type of bad deal, like, here and there. So I mean, there’s going to be a lot of military people there, but at the end of the day, once the ball’s kicked off it’s just a game and none of those people can control anything.”
Toledo (8-4, 7-1 Mid-American Conference) and Air Force (7-5, 3-4 Mountain West Conference) will compete in the Military Bowl at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 28 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.
The game will air live on ESPN.