September 16, 2008

Charbonnet Is Johnny On The Spot

The first three games of the season have produced some outstanding plays by the Red Raider defense. Senior safety Daniel Charbonnet has been firmly in the mix of talent surrounding the "swarm" defense. He is leading Texas Tech with four interceptions, including an eye-opening three against SMU. For the past three seasons this defensive unit has led the Big 12 in pass defense, and the trend seems to be continuing early on in the 2008 campaign.

As a unit the numbers speak for themselves; the Red Raiders have forced nine interceptions, and are only giving up 272 yards through the air, and a reason for this success has been the consistency from Charbonnet. There appears to be no doubt that The Woodlands (TX) product is going to continue to wreak havoc for opposing offenses for the remainder of this season.

Setting the tempo early has become a testament to the much improved defense, and against SMU it was no different. On the Mustang's first play from scrimmage quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell attempted a deep pass over the middle of the field. Charbonnet, who was sitting deep in coverage, intercepted the ball, giving the Red Raiders the momentum shift within the first few seconds of the game. This is the second time in three games an interception has been forced on the opening play.

"Forcing a turnover on the first play of the game really swings the momentum in our favor", explained Charbonnet. "You are not always able to come up with the big play that early in a game, whether on offense or defense. This really raised [the defense's] confidence, and we came of with four more interceptions; Jamar [Wall] and Darcel [McBath] both got one. It really helped set the mood for us defensively the entire game.

Charbonnet's efforts have not been over looked by his teammates. Senior safety Darcel Mcbath praises his fellow safety, and knows that Charbonnet has an unspoken gift for being where he is asked to be on every down.

"[Daniel] Charbonnet is Johnny on the spot; He is always around the ball, forcing fumbles, or coming up with the interception. He is exactly where he needs to be every play, and manages to come up with the big plays. He is such an explosive player, one minute he is not there, and before you know it; he is right there to defend the ball."

For Charbonnet his entire football career has been met with speculation surrounding his athletic ability and his height disadvantage, especially since arriving at Tech. Defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill has toned out the negativity towards his senior safety, and the faith that he has put in Charbonnet is paying dividends when it comes to asking him to be a playmaker.

"Everyone always talks about well why is Daniel [Charbonnet] starting, or why is he playing as much as he is, well just look at the results. My rule here is; I am going to play the guys who make plays and finish the strongest will play. Daniel has been that guy ever since he has been here, whether it is on special teams, or now getting his chance on defense to make the plays that I know he can. He has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. I have been here a long time, and there are some guys that just have that swagger about them, and he is one of them. You can work on it, you can talk about, but the reason he is in there is because he makes plays. He is an outstanding football player; I am so proud of him.

The hard work, perseverance and dedication that Daniel Charbonnet has given in his tenure at Texas Tech will likely be forgotten. For some, like Ruffin McNeil the memories of outstanding performances by an undersized, and many times over looked Charbonnet will leave an everlasting impression on this coaching staff.


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