D3′s Corner: Rockets bloodied but unbowed heading to BGWritten by Mike Bauman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE: This is the ninth installment of a weekly series in which staff writer Mike Bauman will follow sixth-year Toledo senior cornerback Desmond Marrow for the 2011 season.
Though the Rockets’ colors are gold and midnight blue, they might as well be black and blue the way the first half of senior cornerback Desmond Marrow’s final season has gone. Already without the services of senior free safety Mark Singer (shoulder), junior linebacker Dan Molls (lower leg) and senior running back Adonis Thomas (broken arm), Marrow saw three more teammates get hurt in Toledo’s 54-16 victory over Eastern Michigan on Oct. 8.
Like Singer, senior tight end Danny Noble will miss the rest of the year after breaking his fibula in the second half against the Eagles, while junior defensive end T.J. Fatinikun and junior strong safety Jermaine Robinson left the game in the second quarter with arm injuries. Senior star safety Charles Rancifer and senior cornerback Taikwon Paige have missed time this year due to injury, while senior linebacker Terrell Anderson also got dinged up against EMU.
“It’s tough to lose key guys,” Marrow said. “T.J. [got hurt]. T.A.’s pretty banged up. Molls has been out [since New Hampshire], but I think the main thing around here is ‘Next man up.’ So the next man up’s brought here, he’s on scholarship, so he’s expected to play just like the other starters.”
Despite the injuries, the Rockets’ backups have come in and made significant contributions. In the absence of Thomas, senior running back Morgan Williams and sophomore running back David Fluellen combined for 455 yards of total offense and five touchdowns in wins against Temple and Eastern Michigan. Defensively, Toledo has used multiple players up front all season and because of injuries has had several backups get playing experience.
“That’s our philosophy, and that’s been our philosophy since we’ve been here,” UT head coach Tim Beckman said. “We always play a lot of guys. We feel that we want to be fresh in the fourth quarter. That’s just something that I’ve experienced as a defensive coordinator in my life that I felt was necessary to be successful at the end of the year because championships are still won in November.”
Even without Molls and Singer, who accounted for five interceptions in 2010, Toledo forced a total of seven turnovers in its first two games of Mid-American Conference play.
In the meantime, leaders like Austin Dantin and Marrow know how much their desire to win will reflect on their teammates. When the Eagles made it a 21-9 ballgame with 1:22 remaining in the first half Oct. 8, junior defensive tackle Danny Farr blocked the point-after attempt and Marrow scooped it up and took it to the house to extend Toledo’s lead to 23-9. UT outscored EMU 31-7 in the second half.
“That was pretty cool,” Marrow said. “At first, I wasn’t sure if I could do that. I didn’t know if you could advance it, but I just picked it up and took off running. I wasn’t going to stop until I scored. Whistles and everything, I wasn’t going to stop.”
As that play and the injuries have illustrated, no matter what happens in this week’s match against Bowling Green, the Rockets won’t stop.