Towson may have to play against No. 24 and Colonial Athletic Association rival William and Mary in its regular-season home finale Saturday at 3 p.m. at Johnny Unitas Stadium without starting free safety Christian Carpenter.
The junior suffered a leg injury during practice last week for the Tigers (4-6 overall and 2-4 in the conference) and sat out Saturday's 42-14 loss to No. 6 Villanova. Carpenter, an Aberdeen resident and graduate, has been using crutches and is very questionable against the Tribe (6-4, 3-3).
Junior Jalil Gordon started in Carpenter's place against the Wildcats and while his four-tackle showing might seem modest, coach Rob Ambrose was pleased with Gordon's performance.
"He did well," Ambrose said Monday. "The comment on the staff table was Jalil played better on both defense and special teams than we've ever seen him play before. He did everything we asked him to do, and he did it to the best of his ability and didn't make a lot of mental mistakes for a guy that didn't have a lot of game reps. Really, really pleased with his effort."
Carpenter ranks second on the defense in both pass breakups (five) and passes defended (seven) and sixth in tackles (57), and his presence would make the unit stronger. But Ambrose said he needs to see Carpenter return to practice before giving him the green light to start.
"He's going to have to practice," Ambrose said. "At this level, unless you are an exceptionally intelligent football player to where you understand the game more like a coach, practice reps are incredibly important. You can't just go out there. I don't want to disregard basketball, but it's not like you can just roll out a basketball and go shoot again.
"Finding formation alignments, adjustments, where you fit on certain plays, pass fits, run fits, that takes a little practice, and even the greatest athletes need practice time."