March 17, 2010

Finding a replacement for Pugh key this spring

Former Plano West defender Jordan Pugh was a three-year starter in the Texas A&M secondary at both cornerback and safety. Pugh never put up big numbers in his tenure, but he was versatile enough to fill in where he was needed and productive enough to finish second on the team in tackles and first in both interceptions and pass breakups last season. In addition, he was the most experienced member of a secondary that featured two sophomores and a freshman in starting roles.

Now, the Aggies move forward without him and it may involve quite a shakeup when it is all said and done. All-Big 12 safety Trent Hunter returns to man one spot and the two-year starter is one of the most experienced hands on that side of the ball. Hunter led A&M in interceptions as a freshman and then in tackles as a sophomore, which tells you exactly how many times a game Hunter was playing in the box and coming downhill on bigger running backs.

However, Hunter needs help. Although he has good people working the flanks in corners Dustin Harris and Terrence Frederick, he and Pugh combined for 179 tackles, 109 of them solo ones. That means that the front seven must improve, but he also needs someone at safety who is capable of taking some of the burden off of him against the run and perhaps can cover slot receivers in man coverage.

In addition, Hunter's ability to tackle may make him a better candidate for strong rather than free safety. Thus, A&M is looking for someone that complements Hunter's skill set as well as being able to fill Pugh's role.

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