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Tyrrell Herbert would do it all over again.
Herbert, the University of Toledo's senior defensive back, worked his way back from a season-ending injury last year so he could return for one more go.
Now the Rockets sit at 2-7, and Herbert will spend the rest of the season moving over from free safety to fill in at cornerback because of injuries in the defensive backfield.
Herbert shares in the disappointment of this year but doesn't regret his part in it. He is one of just three seniors who see playing time and has served as captain for three years.
"I wouldn't change it," Herbert said. "It feels good to compete. It's bittersweet, I sat out all last season, this season I come back and I'm healthy but our season isn't going too well.
"Hopefully we can finish the season strong and show that we never quit, that we're playing with a lot of pride."
Third on the team with 55 tackles, Herbert started at cornerback against Akron and had six tackles and a pass breakup. The coaching staff had approached him after the Central Michigan game to ask if he would change positions.
"I was fine with it," Herbert said. "I like challenges so I did it. I've been playing football for a long time and I've got a lot of confidence in myself no matter where I'm at on the field. After the first couple plays got out of the way, I got my feet under me.
"I'm going to try to improve these next three games but I'm confident in myself that I can get the job done."
CLOSING THE GAP: UT's opponent on Saturday, Western Michigan, joined the Rockets last weekend in beating a Big Ten Conference team this year. WMU defeated Illinois 23-17 at Ford Field to become the fourth Mid-American Conference team to knock off a Big Ten school in 2008, the most of any year in the history of the MAC.
UT over Michigan and Ball State and Central Michigan both over Indiana are the other MAC victories. The MAC is 4-9 against the Big Ten this season.
"I think it shows our conference is getting stronger, they're getting closer to the level of the Big Ten," UT coach Tom Amstutz said. "It also shows the talented quarterbacks in our league, that can keep a team alive in a game like that. You have to have a quarterback to play well against a Big Ten team. They have more depth and are richer in talent, but a quarterback and a good game plan can get it done."
THINKING AHEAD: Free safety Mark Singer is one freshman who has made a favorable impression this year, playing in every game and starting last week against Akron. Singer said he and other younger players hope their work this year isn't for naught when Amstutz finishes his tenure and a new coaching staff arrives in the off-season.
"We're doing all right," Singer said. "When I was in high school, I had a different head coach every year. So I'm used to coaches changing.
"It just kind of stinks because we got here and you showed what you can do to all these coaches already and they know what you can do, and you were hoping to build off that. And now you have to start all over again. But what can you do?"
- Maureen Fulton
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