Carrie preaches the positive in PSU secondary

Cornerback: What devastated UO won't happen to Vikings

When the University of Oregon secondary got picked apart last year, it sent shock waves through the college football world, and Reynard Carrie was paying attention at Portland State.

Carrie started every game at cornerback for PSU in 2002, and that experience has vaulted him into a leadership role.

'Someone has to take charge, and that's going to be me,' says Carrie, a fifth-year senior from Antioch, Calif. 'I don't want what happened to Oregon last year to happen to us. No way that's going to happen.'

The Vikings, who play host to Texas A&M-Kingsville on Sept. 4 at PGE Park, aren't nearly as inexperienced as the Ducks were last year. But Carrie isn't paying any attention to that, in part because PSU finished sixth in pass defense in the eight-team Big Sky Conference.

PSU allowed 244 yards passing per game last year. Oregon gave up 291 per game.

Carrie, 5-10 and 195 pounds, missed all of his freshman and redshirt freshman seasons because of shoulder injuries. He began contributing as a sophomore, logging 20 tackles. In the past year, he has turned into something of a preacher of positive energy.

'You can do just as much work with a positive word as you can with yelling at someone,' says Carrie, who prepped at California power De La Salle High. 'I don't want us hanging our heads.'

Secondary coach Jamal Fountaine has been impressed with Carrie in the two months he's been with the team.

'He seems to be looking at things through the eyes of a senior,' says Fountaine, a former assistant at Washington. 'He understands his role and is doing things on and off the field to make sure he fulfills that role. He's doing a great job of being a leader.'

'He's really done a lot of growing up lately, and that's good to see,' coach Tim Walsh says. 'We're going to need a good leader in the secondary, because that's going to be a very competitive area in terms of who starts each week at the spots besides left corner, where Reynard plays.'

Four of the Viks' top six cornerbacks are freshmen or sophomores.

Senior Nick Swanegan is the probable starter at right corner; he started three games there last season. Senior Benjamin Tucker started seven games at strong safety last season, and junior Nick Chenault started six games at rover. Both are listed at rover this season.

Jamal Abdullah started just four games at strong safety last year as a freshman but played enough in all 11 games to finish fourth on the team in tackles with 59. He's the projected starter at free safety. Sophomores Byron Woods and Steve Shinen are 1-2 on the depth chart at strong safety.

The secondary is likely to be challenged downfield consistently in the Big Sky. Four Big Sky opponents return their starting quarterbacks. Eight of the conference's top 10 receivers also return.