October 14, 2009

Tongo rises to the occasion

Heading into fall camp it looked like defensive end Osahon Tongo was destine for special teams duty and a few spot snaps as a utility lineman. After a major injury to Robert Hall, Tongo stepped up into the two-deep and last Saturday against Florida State with Anthony Egbuniwe out, Tongo made a huge play for the Jackets.

Tongo sacked and stripped Seminole quarterback Christian Ponder and Jason Peters pounced on the loose ball to stop the potent Florida State attack in a pivotal moment in the game. Tongo credits defensive line coach Giff Smith's training for allowing him to be in a position to make that play.

"Basically our team is a unit as a defensive line and you never know when your number is going to be called or when you will get the opportunity to do what you do. I thank God I was called on in that situation and coach Smith has always told us, never be surprised when it is time to make the play. I was ecstatic when it happened."

On Sunday when the team watched the game back, Tongo relived the pivotal moment and he thinks about it all the time now.

"It keeps going through my mind after I watched it on film. That triggered it and it is a nice feeling," Tongo said.

After sitting behind the top four defensive ends for the first three games of the season, Tongo was working with the scout team remained on the ready for the call from Coach Smith.

"I got into the rotation through hard work and staying faithful. In certain situations if you just stay faithful you will be prepared to come out on top when you need to."

One of the happiest people to see Tongo's play on Saturday was Coach Smith. It has been a tough year for Smith's crew and he hopes Tongo's play was the first of many future big plays this season from the much-maligned defensive line.

"What is exciting about the play is that he is a kid that has always wanted to play, but there has not been a good fit for him," Smith said. "He asked to move down to defensive line at the end of the last year and he has worked hard at it. He started the year working on scout team and he has continued with a great attitude. Personally, I am very proud of him and from a coach's standpoint, I expect him to make plays. I expect Tongo to continue to get better and keep working and as he does, we will have more people to play and more rest we can give guys as a unit."

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