When you’re watching this week’s Thursday nighter between South Carolina and Vanderbilt, keep an eye on Commodore strong safety Javon Marshall. The junior from Ohio — who split time at free safety with Kenny Ladler last year — will be a key man in VU’s defensive plans according to defensive coordinator Bob Shoop:
“In our scheme, the strong safety in many ways has to be the best player. Sean (Richardson, last year’s starter) brought a lot of positive things and experience to the field. Moving Javon to strong safety was an attempt for us to get our best players on the field, and him and Kenny at the same time.
The thing he has to adjust to is our strong safety is probably in the box a little more, similar to that of a linebacker. He may blitz and pressure more than a free safety, although we’ve evolved this year and put in a couple of free-safety blitzes for Kenny.”
Marshall says he ready for the new role. “I can play with the big boys and I know what it takes to play in the box,” he told The Tennessean. According to his coach, Marshall has a tendency to bang around a bit too much with the big boys.
“Javon’s coming off a shoulder injury, and he plays a reckless style that seems to knock himself out for a couple of plays every game,” Shoop said.
So keep an eye on Marshall… when he hasn’t knocked himself out of action.