Countdown to Kickoff: Defensive Backs

Rutgers' opener is now hours away and continues to get you ready for the start of the season with its "Countdown to Kickoff" series. In the next-to-last piece of our series, looks at the defensive backs, a unit that is filled with talent but also dotted with inexperience. Find out where the secondary ranks on "Confidence Meter."

Rutgers opens the season against Norfolk State at Rutgers Stadium in less than 10 hours, and's "Countdown to Kickoff" coverage continues with a look at the defensive backs.

Relevant players: CB Brandon Bing (Sr.), CB David Rowe (Jr.), CB Logan Ryan (R-Fr., CB Marcus Cooper (R-So)., CB Brandon Jones(R-So., SS Joe Lefeged (Sr.), FS Khaseem Greene (R-So.), SS Duron Harmon (So.), FS Patrick Kivlehan (Jr.), FS Darrell Givens (R-Fr.).

The Good: There is more depth in the secondary than anywhere else in the program, and that is a good thing considering coach Greg Schiano loves packages with five and six defensive backs.
Lefeged is the leader and is a tough, hard-hitting tackler who is very good in run support. The budding star of the unit is Greene, who brings 6-foot-1, 215-pound ball of energy and athleticism in line to become the next in a list of very good free safeties. He can cover a lot of ground and relishes the physical nature of the position.
While there isn't a shutdown corner like Devin McCourty, there is depth and developing youth on the two-deep. Rowe is a returning starter and although he doesn't possess blazing speed (he says he is a 4.6 40-yard dash guy) his technique is very good and he understands angles and can jam receivers at the line of scrimmage.
Bing is getting his second shot at starting. He opened 2009 as a starter, but by the third week of the season found himself behind Rowe. But Bing had a strong training camp, which he credits to better preparation.
And if Bing and Rowe falter, the talented but no-experienced Ryan will get a shot. He brings size (6-0, 190) and very good athleticism to the position, and will play a lot regardless of how Rowe and Bing fair.

The Bad: There is no shut-down corner. While replacing McCourty is an impossibility given his talent, speed and cover skills, it still means Rutgers will have to play different defensively. No longer can coverages be rolled to a side of the field to help out another cornerback.
There is also little experience with the cornerbacks and free safety spots. Rowe started 11 games games and Bing started two, and that is it when it comes to the corner position. It means when adversity is faced, there is very little experience to draw upon.

The Unknown: How will Lefeged handle being the leader of the secondary? Can Greene's practice field performance translate onto the field? The depth is tremendous, but experience needs to be earned.

Confidence meter: Scale of 1 to 10: 8

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