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College Sports

Safety impresses in first game

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By ART GARCIA
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

LINCOLN, Neb. - When it comes to learning to play defense, there are few laboratories in recent years as good as the TCU sideline. Just ask Marvin Godbolt.

The redshirt freshman strong safety watched a unit last year that ended up ranked first nationally in total defense (245 yards per game) and scoring defense (9.6 points per game). Godbolt soaked it all in, and Saturday he let it pour out on Nebraska.

Godbolt overcame a shaky beginning - much as the rest of the defense - and wreaked havoc in the Nebraska backfield. The performance of the 5-foot-11, 195-pounder from San Antonio proved crucial in keeping the Horned Frogs within striking distance in the 21-7 season-opening setback.

Godbolt earned Pigskin Classic TCU player of the game honors. He helped lead a Frogs defense that held Nebraska to 159 yards rushing, 190 below its nation-leading average from 2000.

"I had a lot of confidence in myself today," said Godbolt after racking up five tackles for 37 yards in losses. "It was an advantage to sit out last year and watch our upperclassmen."

First-year TCU head coach Gary Patterson praised Godbolt, who replaced graduated strong safety Russell Gary in the starting lineup. All five of Godbolt's tackles were on Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch. Godbolt sacked Crouch once, and hit him on the option four other times.

"We put Marvin in situations where we blitzed him and gave him the chance to make plays," Patterson said. "And he did."

Godbolt admitted it took a couple of series for him to get used to the speed of the game. The Frogs, with six new starters on defense, were a step slow on Nebraska's opening drive. The Cornhuskers went 70 yards in six plays for a touchdown.

"We had a couple of freshman mistakes from our strong safety early," Patterson said. "... We felt like that one of the things people are scared to do against the option is they are scared to blitz it."

Crouch thrives on a defense's tentativeness. Once the Frogs settled down, the Huskers bogged down. After Nebraska's second touchdown of the first quarter, the home team went seven possessions without scoring. Nebraska netted just 13 yards and committed two turnovers in that span.

Godbolt didn't make his first tackle until the second quarter - the sack, for an 11-yard loss. Other newcomers also began stepping up. Sophomore end Bobby Pollard made five tackles, and linebackers Devon Davis and Josh Goolsby each had three stops.

"With a lot of young guys it takes time to get used to the speed, especially Nebraska. They are fast," TCU senior linebacker Chad Bayer said. "Once we picked it up, we started playing pretty decent."

Bayer, TCU's leading tackler with 71 last season, added that the young players "should be grown up" after Nebraska. The lessons, from last season to this, should be learned.

"That's what we came here to do," Godbolt said.

Art Garcia, (817) 390-7760 agarcia@star-telegram.com

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