The time had finally come for redshirt senior safety Gerald Bowman. After two tasking years in the USC program, Bowman got his shot. Bowman primarily played as a backup in his junior year of 2012 and headed into 2013 expecting to see a little more action on the field. But after just three games, Bowman saw his season cut short by a shoulder injury. He worked and worked in the offseason to recover from that injury and figured prominently in the battle for playing time at safety. All the hard work seemed to pay off Saturday as Bowman ran out of the tunnel, knowing he would start for his first time as a Trojan.
“I would say for the most part, it was different,” Bowman told USCFootball.com. “It wasn’t like before because I knew I was starting. Overall, I was comfortable out there. I just wanted to make sure I executed on everything I did. My whole mental thing was just be locked in. When I came out, I was excited. Most importantly, I was definitely excited. Overall, like I said, I just wanted to make sure I did my job.”
Bowman let everyone know he was there to stay as he made a couple of big plays early on in the game. Most notably, Bowman intercepted Fresno State quarterback Brandon Connette right after the Trojans had turned the ball over on a Justin Davis fumble. In order to make the play, Bowman had to show patience, just like he had done over the course of his career at USC.
“On that play, I saw the number three receiver going for a bubble,” Bowman explained. “And that technique, I’m taught, don’t react to the bubble. Just kind of play it high to low. I saw the quarterback, he looked the bubble off, and tried to throw the little curl route and I was right there in position. I reacted to the ball and made a play on the ball.”
Although Bowman made the play and intercepted the pass, his teammates expected a little better of him.
“C’mon man, take it to the house,” Bowman responded when asked what his teammates said to him after the interception. “Take it to the house, man. What happened was, I was running, and I thought I saw somebody behind me, so when I looked, it kind of put me off balance and that’s why I was tight roping and wound up stepping out. But, I’ll make up for it.”
As a fifth-year senior, Bowman is an experienced veteran in the secondary. Bowman had to step up this week with the loss of another senior leader in Josh Shaw. Despite the loss of the key player, Bowman credits the tight knit relationship between the defensive backs as an important factor in their performance Saturday afternoon.
“Most importantly, this team in the secondary, we’re very close,” Bowman said. “We all trust each other. Right before the game, we made sure that we all told each other that we were there for each other. We had a lot of young guys out there, but at the same time, we go against the top receivers everyday in practice. We knew it wouldn’t get any harder than that. We all just make sure we stick to what we know. Our execution, alignment assignment, and we just executed.”
When the Josh Shaw story hit this team, most would think it would have been hard for the players to stay focused on the task at hand. But for Bowman? He knew he had to stay focused. It’s just another example of his senior prowess.
“Not really,” Bowman responded when asked about if Shaw was a distraction. “I mean a little bit, but at the same time, we all were focusing on the first game. We all wanted to just come out, execute, and leave all of that behind us. That was our main thing and that’s what we came out and did.”
Marshall Cherrington will be attending USC and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism beginning in January of 2015. You can follow him on Twitter @MWCherrington.