Hens’ Colby Reeder excited to be healthy again

NEWARK — Colby Reeder wasn’t even sure what to call it.

Was it a fumble or an interception?

All the Delaware linebacker knows is that when teammate Tenny Adewusi knocked the ball free from a Richmond receiver — just as he was pulling in a pass — he was there to snatch it away.

Thirty-four yards later, Reeder was in the end zone with the ball. The play was determined to be a fumble recovery.

“I think we go for the ball a lot more than people actually see,” said Reeder. “Once you turn around with the ball and there’s just clear field ahead of you, it’s a good feeling. I thought it was a ‘pick-six’ the whole game, just because he was bobbling it and it was kind of bang-bang.

“But I don’t really know which one’s better,” he added with a laugh. “I’ll take it either way. It feels good to have the ball back in my hands any time I can get it.”

Of course, the No. 24 Blue Hens (2-1 CAA, 4-2 overall), who travel to New Hampshire (0-3 CAA, 1-5 overall) on Saturday for a 3:30 p.m. game, gladly took Reeder’s defensive touchdown, too, in their 43-28 victory over the Spiders.

It’s the kind of big play they expect from the highly-touted sophomore out of Salesianum.

Really, said coach Danny Rocco, his defensive staff is only now honing in on the best way to utilize a player with the skill set of the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Reeder. He can essentially be a defensive lineman on one play and a defensive back on the next.

“He has the skills, the tools, to be a really dominant player,” said Rocco. “He has the size, power, explosion and quickness to do a lot of different things. To be quite honest, I feel like we’re using him better. I think we’re understanding better all that he can do.

“You move in and out of some schemes only if you have the right personnel. … We have the right guy with that. So we’re able to do a few more things that suit him.”

The biggest issue for Reeder, who has 18 tackles this fall, has been the back pain that’s slowed him this season. He sat out the Cornell game on Sept. 15 to let it heal.

“What I’ve seen here of late is Colby kind of back to being care-free and having fun,” said Rocco. “He’s spending less time making sure he’s OK and more time just being entrenched in the practice. He loves to play football.”

“When I feel good, I start to think less about it and just start playing football,” said Reeder. “I’m feeling better. Our ‘PTs’ have done a great job. I’m starting to feel like my old self.”

Of course one of the big reasons that Reeder came to Delaware was so that he could play a couple seasons with older brother Troy, one of the Hens’ starting middle linebackers.

Troy, a senior, just had one of the best games of his career when he had 15 tackles — including five for losses — in Delaware’s 28-16 upset of No. 5 Elon on Saturday. The performance earned him CAA Defensive Player of the Week honors.

Colby was glad he was there to be part of it.

“It’s hard to see it on the field playing,” said Colby. “But watching film, he was all over the place. It was probably one of the best games I’ve ever seen from him.

“It’s probably better than we expected,” Colby said about his relationship with his brother. “We spend so much time together and really focus on the fundamentals. I think we make each other better. After a big win like that, it’s extra special to be able to celebrate with him.”

Having Troy there to compete with him also pushes Colby to get better. There’s nothing like a little sibling rivalry.

The Reeders are the sons of former Delaware standout fullback Dan Reeder.

“I mean we’re always super happy for each other,” said Colby. “But when Troy has his 15 tackles, I’m just like, ‘All right, now I’ve got to get 15 tackles.’ Or he’s like, ‘Now I have to get a touchdown.’ We just kind of keep fueling each other.”

Kehoe bounces back

Pat Kehoe’s final throw against Elon may have been his best.

Knowing the Phoenix were blitzing on the play, the junior quarterback stood his ground and lofted a nice 23-yard touchdown pass to receiver Vinny Papale with 7:01 left to give Delaware the lead for good at 21-16.

One Elon blizter came through unblocked but Kehoe stepped to the side to buy just enough time to get off the throw. He took a pretty good hit on the play.

“I just put it up there with enough air to let him run under it,” said Kehoe. “He made a great play. It was an awesome play. The stadium really erupted after that. It was cool to experience.”

It was easy to forget in that moment that Kehoe’s day had gotten off to a rough start.

With one minute left in the first half, the left-hander had completed just 6-of-15 passes for 59 yards with an interception and two lost fumbles. After that, however, Kehoe was 10-for-15 for 85 yards with three TDs and no interceptions.

Kehoe said he never panicked.

“You’re obviously thinking, ‘I’ve got to tighten up, I’ve got to do better,’” said Kehoe. “But there’s also a ‘next play’ mentality. Guys have faith in me and I know that I can bounce back from it.”

“He’s able to recover and respond,” said Rocco. “He certainly had a poor first half. But it never effected my confidence that he wouldn’t have a good second half.”

Extra points

The Hens, who were ranked as high as No. 15 in the preseason, jumped back into the poll on Monday at No. 24 in the STATs FCS Division I poll. … Elon dropped from No. 5 to No. 11 in the poll. No. 4 James Madison is back to being the CAA’s top-ranked squad. … Starting center Collin Wallish didn’t play against Elon because of illness. Senior guard Mario Farinella moved to center for the Elon game. While Wallish has been cleared to resume practice, Rocco said his staff is still contemplating different player combinations up front. … Running back Kani Kane (Sussex Tech) and tight end Charles Scarff each have five touchdowns for Delaware.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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