Marcellus Bowman Leads BC Secondary
|11.10.09 at 11:25 am ET|
Much has been made this year of the performance of true freshman Luke Kuechly and the impact he has had on the Boston College defense. Yet, as good as Kuechly has been, he is not yet a leader for the Eagles. He will be the first to admit that. He always espouses that the upperclassmen at BC have been instrumental in his success and guidance.
One of those players is Marcellus Bowman.
The senior strong safety is the backbone of the Eagles defense. He is second on the team in tackles with 43 (Kuechly has an impressive 94) and is the leader of a secondary that is the crux of the the bend-but-don’t-break philosophy that defensive coordinator Bill McGovern employs. He also leads the team in “human rocket” tackles, as any strong safety should. Chances are, if there is a bone-crunching stop, No. 8 will be bouncing away from it.
“It is not really a thought, it is not really a plan, it is just the way I play,” Bowman said. “I don’t think that I need to make a big hit. The only thing I am thinking about is making a tackle and sometimes the result of that is making a big hit.”
The best example of Bowman’s ability to sniff out plays and make the big hit came against Notre Dame late when the Irish had fourth-and-goal with the ball on the 1-yard line. Notre Dame tried to go to the Wildcat and slip running back Robert Hughes through the middle of the line of scrimmage. Bowman swooped in, lowered his shoulder and stopped Hughes in his tracks.
“They motioned the guy down and I changed my keys from 2 instead of 1 and just went where the ball did,” Bowman said.
This year has provided Bowman with his first big opportunity. He did not play much in the past under Tom O’Brien or Jeff Jagodzinski and was stuck, for the most part, as the primary backup to Jamie Silva at the free safety position. He made the slide to strong safety last year and started two games there while recording 31 tackles for the 2008 season.
So, what has changed for Bowman this year? He thinks he is just showing what he can do.
“Football-specific, my knowledge of the game has definitely has taken off these last two years,” Bowman said. “My vision on the field. I didn’t play a lot but I played enough to, you know, get the experience to be where I need to be.”
The Boston College secondary does not get a lot of hype. At the same time, it has turned into a solid group with Bowman and Wes Davis at the safety spots and DeLeon Gause and Roderick Rollins at the corner spots. McGovern counts on the unit to be the last line in a defense that is designed to keep playmakers in front of them, even if it does mean giving up a continual procession of 6-yard passes.
“It is just being disciplined. Because when we play our type of defense you have to be very patient and disciplined, because it can get frustrating, the way we play,” Bowman said. “I imagine as a fan it can be frustrating to see the same play to the sideline or the same play working for 6 yards, 6 yards, 7 yards. It works on the other side of the ball. They are getting sick of getting 6 yards and they want to get a big play and when they make that decision that is when you have to make the most of that opportunity. We are all very disciplined players, that is why we are effective in our type of defense.”
Ask Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFevour about the scheme and he will probably say that it worked to perfection. LeFevour hit dinks and dunks all game but, when it came time to go down field, the BC secondary took advantage of the opportunity as Davis came up with an interception.
“Especially strong safety, or the secondary period, we are the last line of defense,” Bowman said. “And if there is a big play, obviously we did something wrong because we are the last place to let anybody past us. Definitely a position I have grown into.”
Bowman hopes that somebody at the next level has noticed his play this year, as he is not quite ready for his football career to be over. Yet, if these are indeed his last games, he feels confident about his prospects in life. He graduated last May with a degree in communications.
“After school? Hopefully I can show that I have done enough stuff on tape to impress some scouts and make it onto a team and make it to [an NFL] camp next year,” Bowman said. “Obviously, if that doesn’t happen, I have a Boston College degree. So, I am pretty confident in my life outside of football, but as of right now I am hoping to make a team next year.”