cavaliers notebook

Starting safety McLeod likely to be ready to face Southern California

Virginia quarterback Marc Verica, middle, will face a talented but largely untested USC secondary.
Virginia quarterback Marc Verica, middle, will face a talented but largely untested USC secondary. (Tracy A Woodward)
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By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 8, 2010

CHARLOTTESVILLE - Virginia strong safety Rodney McLeod, who missed the season-opening win over Richmond, "likely" will be available to play Saturday at No. 16 Southern California, Cavaliers Coach Mike London said.

Typically a starter, McLeod, a junior, was not listed on the two-deep depth chart the team issued Tuesday.

Senior Trey Womack, who started in place of McLeod against the Spiders, and junior Dom Joseph are listed as interchangeable on the depth chart at the starting strong safety spot.

Also listed as interchangeable are senior cornerback Ras-I Dowling and sophomore cornerback Devin Wallace.

Dowling, a two-time second-team all-ACC selection, did not play against Richmond due to a lingering hamstring pull.

London said Dowling will make the trip to USC, though his status for the game remains unclear.

"We'll see again here today where he's at," London said. "A hamstring pull for a skilled athlete is something that can tie you up for a while, and we just want to be smart with him and about him. He knows his body better than anybody else, and we'll look to see how he feels after today's practice and tomorrow's."

Field position concerns

For the first three quarters of Saturday night's game against Richmond, the Virginia offense averaged starting its drives from its 25-yard line.

Conversely, Richmond started its drives through the first three quarters from its 34.

The field position advantage Richmond held for most of the game didn't end up causing too much damage, but it was problematic enough for London to list it as an area in need of improvement entering this week's game against the Trojans.

"Where you start is critically important, even on the other side, about where you limit your opponents," London said. "And I just thought that we could have done a better job. We were always a block away from getting the right guy or making the block that we needed, so we've got to do a better job of that, allowing [Chase] Minnifield to catch a punt without having guys run down unattended on him. And we've got to make decisions on when to catch the ball. But the part about the field position is critical for that game. It's going to be critical for this game. We've got to do a better job of that."

USC's new secondary

The Southern California secondary that Virginia quarterback Marc Verica will face Saturday is not as vaunted as others in recent Trojans history.

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