JHoo’s Summer Reading 2010: Safeties

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Rodney McLeod

For the last analysis of the summer, we have the last line of defense: the safeties. And in 2010, the last line of defense is going to be key, given the new, more aggressive defense as well as the young linebackers playing in front of the safeties. Fortunately, the Hoos are not without talent on the back line, even if some more depth would allow everyone to sleep a little easier in 2010.

The Starters

Rodney McLeod is going to start. His running mate in the starting line-up still is a bit up in the air.

McLeod enters his third year in the program (and on the field) with the same kind of confidence that was a key factor in getting him onto the field early in his career, and his presence on the field should help Mike London’s confidence. A former cornerback/nickel back, McLeod is at his best in coverage, playing with great range and burst in zone and with the ability to match up with wide receivers in man. McLeod had some hiccups in 2009 when it came to making his reads from the new safety slot, but his overall film looked better and better as the year progressed, a sign that he was getting more comfortable with the new position, thus allowing his natural ability to take over.

Against the run, McLeod is far more aggressive than one might think a former cornerback would be, and while the 5’10”, 185-pound McLeod does not have the almost-linebacker size that allowed someone like Anthony Poindexter to spread fear in the secondary, he will come up on the run with speed and will throw his body around when he gets to the ball carrier (causing two fumbles in 2009). In fact, McLeod led the defensive backs last year with a respectable 42 solo tackles, 62 total tackles, and three tackles for loss. At times last year, McLeod actually could be a little too aggressive with his angles and initial attempt to hit, but this was another case where I thought McLeod’s game evened out as he settled in.

2010 will be an interesting year for