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Robert Hughes and the lightswitch

Before we get too far into Navy week, I wanted to shine the light onto Robert Hughes for his performance against Washington State.

Hughes had started to become a forgotten man, his number rarely called in the loss to USC and the narrow victory over Boston College. In fact, some were worried if the 240-pound back would even be available against Washington State, as he was knocked out of the Boston College game after a goal-line hit left him concussed.

Yet with Armando Allen out for the Washington State game, Charlie Weis called Hughes’ number early and often, and he certainly didn’t disappoint.

“I don’t really know when the switch went on, but the switch definitely went on. He decided this was what he was going to be. He made the decision, this is how I’m going to run,” Weis said. “With my pads down, leaning forward, not trying to make everyone miss, that kind of cleaned up for him how he’s going to play.”

Hughes averaged 5.5 yards a carry, moving impressively on draw play, stretches, and counters. More importantly, Hughes was a vital part of the passing game, making a number of good catches on check-downs from Jimmy Clausen.

“Coach just kept calling my number,” Hughes said. “I got into a rhythm. I was running the ball physical and running the ball hard. It felt great. You get used to the flow of the game and the style of the defense.”

In a game where Weis wanted to win decisively, and also be as vanilla as possible for future opponents, Hughes allowed the coaching staff to simply out muscle the opponent and beat a team that might have known what was coming, but simply couldn’t do anything to stop it.

That’s a credit to the veteran offensive line and a credit to Hughes maturity.

“It’s an opportunity and chance,” Hughes said after the game. “Whenever my number’s called, I want to produce and play as hard as I could.”

For a player that many worried would never capitalize on the opportunities, Hughes effort on Halloween night was a treat.