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Position preview: Secondary appears to be strength for UT

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One of the positions of strength on this University of Toledo football team figures to be its defensive backfield. With Ka’dar Hollman and Justin Clark returning at cornerback as well as Josh Teachey, Kahlil Robinson, and DeDarallo Blue at the safety spots, the Rockets are very experienced on the back-end of the defense.

Then there are young players like Tycen Anderson, DeAmonte King, Victor Williams, and Samuel Womack who figure to be key contributors in reserve roles in the secondary.

“We mesh real good together,” Hollman said. “We have some vets that played together last year. In the secondary even on top we are good, but we also have depth. The younger people are really stepping up to their opportunity that they have this season and are ready to take a role on this team.”

Candle said he is excited to have the experience his team does at the safety position.

“The safety group is a very veteran group,” Candle said. “It’s a group that played very well at times last season. Kahlil was outstanding at times last year. Josh has played a lot of football for us. Then Blue has experience coming back. They have to be great communicators and they have to help guys get on the same page and then when there are opportunities to make plays, they have to make them.”

Returning cornerbacks/safeties

13 Ka’dar Hollman (6-0, 190, Sr.) Started all 14 games at CB and made 35 tackles and seven pass breakups

24 Justin Clark (5-11, 175, Jr.) Played all 14 games as backup with 32 tackles and two interceptions

19 Samuel Womack (5-10, 183, So.) Played in six games with four tackles and an interception.

12 DeAmonte King (5-11, 175, R-Fr.) Sat out as redshirt last season

8 Josh Teachey (5-11, 190, Sr.) Started all 14 games at safety making 56 tackles and four pass breakups

21 DeDarallo Blue (6-0, 200, Jr.) Starter in 13 games at “Star” safety with 36 tackles (5.5 tackles for loss)

27 Kahlil Robinson (6-0, 175, Jr.) Started 10 games at safety and led Toledo with four interceptions.

15 Tycen Anderson (6-2, 185, So.) Played in 14 games as backup with 30 tackles and an interception

28 Victor Williams (5-10, 185, So.) Played in 10 games as reserve with nine tackles

32 Keelan Roberts (5-11, 180, So.) Played in five games with four tackles.

Newcomers

22 Jordan Hendy (6-1, 175, Jr.) Junior college transfer

29 Dakari Carter (5-9, 165, Fr.) Joined UT this spring

Preseason needs

Candle mentioned that his defensive backfield must avoid communication errors that allow big plays for its opponents. Candle said eliminating those mental errors is key to having an improved secondary. As the young players mix in with the veterans it will be important for Toledo to have everyone comfortable playing beside another. That cohesion at the back-end of the defense will help defend some of the more high-powered offenses they will face this season.

Player to watch

Justin Clark. Hollman is the unquestioned leader of the cornerbacks coming into his senior season, but Clark impressed in his playing time last year and had two interceptions to show for it. If defenses choose to pick on Clark in the passing game, he will have to continue to improve in an expanded role.

Contact Brian Buckey at bbuckey@theblade.com419-724-6110, or on Twitter @BrianBuckey.

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