WKU’s Xavius Boyd switches positions, this time to defensive end

Brad Stephens

Sophomore linebacker Xavius Boyd is no stranger to switching positions.

Boyd was recruited to WKU as a safety, but moved to outside linebacker during the 2010 season, where he made seven starts.

And now this Saturday against Navy, Boyd will make his first career appearance as a defensive end.

“It’s something I’ve never done before,” he said. “(Junior defensive end Quanterus) Smith has been getting in my ear a little bit and letting me know what I should do and how to do it.”

Boyd will join Smith and senior defensive ends Jared Clendenin and Bo Adebayo on a front four that helped hold Kentucky to 93 rushing yards Thursday in a 14-3 loss.

Boyd notched five tackles against UK, including an 11-yard sack of Wildcat quarterback Morgan Newton.

He listed sophomores Bar’ee Boyd and Chuck Franks and juniors Tyler Julian and C.J. Odom as  candidates to fill his outside linebacker spot against the Midshipmen.

“They can all fill into any spot in the linebacking corps,” Xavius Boyd said. “I know that whoever gets in there, they’re going to have a big day.”

The WKU defense will have its hands full defending Navy’s triple-option offense.

The responsibility of figuring out how to stop the unconventional offense will lie on defensive coordinator Lance Guidry. 

Luckily for Guidry, he has experience facing the very same option system employed by the Midshipmen.

He was defensive coordinator at McNeese State from 2000-2004. While there, his teams faced Georgia Southern, coached by future Navy and Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson.

Guidry said Johnson’s use of running backs J.R. Revere and Adrian Peterson in the option game was similar to the system Johnson installed at Navy after being hired in 2002.

“I’m familiar with it, but the kids aren’t,” Guidry said. “They’re not used used to playing against it.”

WKU lost to Navy 38-22 in 2009 in the teams’ only prior meeting.

But much of the Topper defense that took the field that day in Annapolis, Md., is no longer with the team — either departed through graduation or sent to the bench to be replaced by younger talent.

“Those guys have probably already forgot how to defend it,” Guidry said. “You’ve got to play assignment football.

“You’ll get the run for the most part, but what’s dangerous is when they mix in play action and their receivers are wide open. You have to hope to get pressure on the quarterback.”

Guidry also spoke of the importance for his defensive linemen to overcome “chop blocks,” a technique in which offensive linemen dive directly at their opponent’s legs with the hope of clearing space for the running game.

“They’re going to chop us a lot,” he said. “We’ll have to get up and run, keep our hands down and just try to get to the ball and stop them.”