Updated Thu, Sep 20, 2012 7:56 pm
Updated Thu, Sep 20, 2012 7:56 pm
The Ohio Bobcats’ defense has been imperative in deciding the outcome of every game this season. Ohio has forced momentous turnovers, and two ball hawks in particular have been preying on opposing quarterbacks.
Senior linebacker Jelani Woseley and redshirt sophomore safety Nathan Carpenter are responsible for most of Ohio’s immense turnovers.
Woseley iced the historic Penn State game with an interception late in the fourth quarter, Carpenter put the New Mexico State game away with a pick and both players came up with huge turnovers in the Marshall game.
“At Penn State [Woseley] got it and [against New Mexico State] I got it, now we both got it. We’re making a little trend here,” said Carpenter after the Marshall game.
The two playmakers have started the season off right by making huge, game-deciding plays. And while it’s nice to make a play, it’s all in a day’s work, according to Carpenter.
“It’s always good once you get that first turnover of the year, it’s great. But after that it’s just kind of like doing your job. You expect to make big plays and expect to help this team win games and that’s what it boils down to,” said Carpenter.
Both Carpenter and Woseley played offense in high school, Woseley was a quarterback and Carpenter was a running back. The two credit some of their ability to read plays and make jumps on passes to their experience on the other side of the ball.
“With patterns, you start to see tendencies throughout the season. So, it helps being on offense a while back, I used to know those routes and combinations,” said Woseley.
The phrase “let your play do the talking,” is overused in the sporting world. However, Carpenter and Woseley truly follow it. The two make plays on the field, but one would be hard-pressed to find either one of them gloating or running their mouth afterward.
“When it really comes down to it, what you do on the field is what kind of player you are, and that’s the way I take it," said Carpenter. "I don’t do a lot of talking…I just let my play do the talking, I guess. Because in the end, talk is talk, it’s nothing."
Woseley nodded in agreement, adding, “We let the field speak volumes for us.”
Ohio head coach Frank Solich has noticed the lead-by-example playing style displayed by the two primetime players. While they may not be leaders in the verbal sense, their demeanor on the field says more than enough.
“Both those guys are pretty quiet guys on the field, but their leadership shows in other ways. They are really competitive guys, they’ve played hurt, they’ve made big plays in games for us,” said Solich. “You can’t get enough of those kind of guys, we’re fortunate that those two guys are that way for us...These guys take advantage of almost every opportunity."
After the stellar play of Ohio’s D this year, it’s hard to imagine that the season started with lingering doubts about the defensive unit. But it did, many were concerned about the loss of former Ohio linebacker Noah Keller to graduation. Then, to add salt to the wound, redshirt senior cornerback and team captain Travis Carrie went down with a season-ending injury in the pre-season. However, those fears have been put to rest with the help of Carpenter and Woseley.
“We were (at the start of the season) without, really, our top three returning corners from last season. So when you look at it from that stand point, I think the guys that are playing now have done a remarkable job,” said Solich.
Big opportunities loomed at the beginning of the season. Ohio’s defense stepped up and met them. Woseley has already doubled his interception total from last season.
“I’m just taking advantage of my opportunities, honestly…If there happens to be a tipped ball or anything that would allow me to help the team out, I make a play,” said Woseley.
Ohio has faced deficits early in games this season. The Bobcats trailed 14-3 at half time of the Penn State game. Both the New Mexico State and Marshall games were closer than Ohio would have like early on. But, Ohio persevered.
The Bobcats have shown resilience and the ability to adjust, it has been essential to their victories.
“As a defense, we can keep our composure, regardless of what score is. We know that we can make adjustments during the game,” said Woseley.
If one were to dub a motto for the Bobcat defense, “whatever it takes” would certainly be a good choice. Ohio is never discouraged. The Bobcats always feel like they can turn the game around.
Carpenter realizes what it takes to win games. He feeds off of the spotlight and welcomes the pressure. He is also a believer in the age-old football adage, “defense wins championships.”
“We want to be the heart and soul of this team, we want to win and lose games by this team,” said Carpenter. “If we’re down by two points and there’s two minutes left to go and the other team has the ball, our defense wants to be out there to stop the ball and create a turnover. We want to get the ball back and maybe score. Offense wins games, but defense wins championships.”
It has been an exciting season for Ohio thus far. While the blood pressure of the Bobcats may have risen during the waning moments of both the PSU and Marshall games, the heart of the Bobcats is strong and healthy.