Purdue will be breaking in an entirely new safety unit this year. Though Max Charlot did play a decent amount last year, but it was when Purdue was going with 5 or 6 defensive backs and not at a true safety position. Last year it didn’t seem like Purdue’s safeties, mainly Logan Link, could stop anyone consistently. Cornerbacks Ricardo Allen and Josh Johnson were relied on to often to take care of the wide receivers on their own. When in zone coverage, it seemed that the safeties had problems picking up what wide receiver they should take after they were out of the corner backs’ coverage area. Maybe it will help that Purdue won’t have a former walk-on at one of the spots this year for the first time in awhile.
The safeties will be pretty inexperienced this year. Charlot is a senior, but he hasn’t played consistently. He will most likely be the strong safety. Expect sophomore speedster Taylor Richards to be at the free safety spot. E.J. Johnson is also only a sophomore and could get some time at a safety spot, but he will be mostly used in the 5 or 6 defensive back packages. Landon Feichter is the other safety option since Purdue has to have at least one walk-on competing there. One other option, though probably unlikely for major minutes, is freshman Jordan Shine. Shine is one of Purdue’s more herald 2012 recruits and he has the drive to earn time. It will probably take him a year to adjust to the speed of the college game however.
One thing that concerns me at the safety spot is there isn’t that one big safety that can deliver a big hit that Purdue normally has. Richards is 180lbs, Charlot 190, Feichter 178, and Johnson 178. They’re going to need to rely on speed to break up passes instead of trying to just knock a guy out.
Purdue is set at the cornerback spot with Allen and Johnson. If the safeties can’t help it’s going to be a long year in the passing game. Over the top help is going to be imperative since the corners aren’t very tall for those jump balls. Hopefully the safeties are quick learners or teams will just load up on the passing game.