Sep 2, 2013
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON – Corey Tindal was anxious for Labor Day weekend to arrive. He said it felt like he’d traveled a long way to reach his destination.
In the first college football game of his career, Tindal played the first snap for Marshall. He got the irony.
The 5-foot-10, 173-pound redshirt freshman defensive back had waited for so long … and then he didn’t have to wait at all. He was the Herd starter at nickel against Miami (Ohio).
“It was the greatest feeling,” Tindal said Monday during the Herd players’ weekly interview session. “It was the best feeling. I hadn’t been out there in almost two years and to get out there and make plays, finally be part of a team again, part of a family, it was great.
“And we won. It was a special night for me.”
Tindal was the Herd’s only freshman starter in a 52-14 romp over the RedHawks, and one of 11 Herd freshmen (including four true freshmen) who played in their first college games.
The one-time FIU signee from Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., hadn’t played in a game since November 2011, in a prep year at Atlanta Sports Academy -- then headed to Marshall and sat out the 2012 season as an academic non-qualifier.
“The trials for me, all the things I went through, really, I’m glad I waited,” Tindal said. “I’m more mature now, and God put me on this path, and I got another opportunity to play. And I’m going to take advantage of it
So, after no game competition in about 22 months, you’re wondering about whether a nickel rusts?
“No, coming in and playing against (quarterback Rakeem) Cato and that offense in camp, I felt like I was ready to go,” Tindal said. “The game kind of slowed down after a little bit and then I was just out there trying to make plays.”
He didn’t wait long to get into the action. Tindal and cornerback Derrick Thomas
got the hit on Miami’s game-opening kick return. Tindal then made the tackle on Miami’s second play, a 5-yard run. Two plays later, the rookie nickel made the stop – a 4-yard loss for the RedHawks – on a second-and-11 pass play.
If Thundering Herd fans were looking for an indicator of how the Marshall defense might be improved this season, Tindal and Co. provided it quickly.
The tackles on Miami’s first series from scrimmage were made by linebacker Neville Hewitt, safety Taj Letman, tackle James Rouse, corner Darryl Roberts -- and Tindal’s two. None of those players were available much – if at all – in the 2012 season.
“I feel like Tindal did pretty well in his first game,” said Roberts, a redshirt junior who was out last season (right ankle fracture). “The first couple of series, they came after him and he made some pretty good tackles, fought off blocks.
“I feel like he’s going to be a really good player on our side of the ball.”
Tindal finished the game with four tackles (three solos), the one for loss, and a pass breakup.
When the RedHawks opened the game with a four-receiver set, Tindal knew he’d be on the field. He said he wasn’t surprised. Nor was new Herd defensive coordinator Chuck Heater stunned the redshirt freshman made big plays early. He did the same in spring practice.
Tindal said the opener was significant for he and other teammates on defense – tackle Josh Brown, end Gary Thompson and linebacker Kent Turene -- who had sat out last season to fulfill academic requirements. It showed them the requirements were worth the wait, he said.
“It was a great reward for us, to see all of us out there running around the ball,” Tindal said. “Everything just has fallen into place with Coach Heater, the other new coaches, all the players that came in, guys coming back (from injury), a great reward … nothing better.”
Tindal said Heater wondering how his defense would withstand the bad moments that regularly occur in a game was a point of discussion – and a question that was answered.
“Coach Heater said that was a good point to see how mentally strong the defense was going to be,” Tindal said. “How we handled the adversity … and we handled it well. Everybody stayed cool, we had great leadership, they kept our heads on and we kept playing.
“And no matter what happened, we just kept playing. Then in the second half, we came out even better.”
With FCS member Gardner-Webb (1-0) visiting Edwards Stadium on Saturday night, Tindal said the Herd defense wants to bring more of the same that it displayed in the win over the rival RedHawks – with one exception.
“Excitement … we bring excitement; that’s what we want,” Tindal said. “We’re going to hit, we’re going to force turnovers, cause a lot to happen. All 11 get to the ball.
“The one thing we need is more turnovers (one against Miami; linebacker Raheem Waiters interception and 27-yard return for a fourth-quarter touchdown). Coach Heater didn’t talk about it much, but we talk about it as a defense.
“We need to be able to create points too, to change momentum, so we’ve got to make turnovers. That’s what we want and we need.”