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Football: Secondary team older, more experienced
Heading into the season last year, “talented, but young,” was the way Ohio’s secondary was often described.
That squad became even younger when a multitude of injuries ravaged the already inexperienced group.
The unit’s talent showed early when it hauled in four interceptions in the first half of a 41-7 win against Marshall.
But so too did its inexperience. Only a game later, Rutgers receiver Mohamed Sanu torched the Bobcats for 176 yards and two touchdowns on a Big-East single-game record 16 receptions.
No longer inexperienced, the Bobcats will return their entire secondary this fall and look to build upon the flashes of greatness shown in 2011.
“Every snap is critical,” cornerback Travis Carrie said. “Going into practice every day, you’ve got to look at every snap as more knowledge that you can gain. The more snaps as a team that we’re getting are very beneficial, both offensively and defensively.”
Carrie was one of many Bobcats who missed some of those snaps last year because of an injury. Carrie was knocked out of the Rutgers game in the first half with a head injury but avoided missing any future games.
Teammates Xavier Hughes and Omar Leftwich were not as fortunate. Both suffered injuries early in the season and missed considerable time. While Leftwich was eventually able to return to the field, Hughes missed the final eight games of the season.
Because his last game was a 38-37 loss at Buffalo on Oct. 8, Hughes said he cannot wait for this season to start.
“We’ve built a bond and a foundation between each other,” Hughes said. “It’s a lot better knowing that you have players that have experience and know what they’re doing out there. When we put that together, it’s going to be a fine-tuned machine when game-time comes.”
Reserve players Larenzo Fisher, Jamil Shaw, Josh Kristoff and Octavius Leftwich each earned more playing time as starters were sidelined.
After picking off nine passes in the first four games of the season, the Bobcats went without a single interception in the next four games.
Hughes led the team with three interceptions before his injury and finished the season with the second most of anyone on the team.
Hughes said he is still trying to completely recover from the injury and placed his status at 90 percent, but said he will be ready to go for fall.
“I’m back at it every day, but it’s still a process for me to get back to 100 percent,” he said. “I just got to get in the weight room. You’ll see a better me come fall.”
Carrie is also trying to get back to 100 percent. The senior dislocated his finger in practice last week and is waiting for it to heal fully before he gets back onto the field.
“I ended up having stitches, so right now we’re on edge about the stitches coming out,” Carrie said. “When the stitches fully heal up, we’ll
proceed with practice.”