Cloud is still getting his feet wet as Western's strong safety, a job he won during spring practice and cemented during the Hilltoppers' preseason camp.
"I'm just playing my assignment," he said.
Cloud also is playing on Western's kickoff teams, and one of his two assisted tackles in Saturday's game helped prevent a touchdown on the opening kickoff of the second half.
He and kicker Chris James ran down Eastern kick returner Davin Walker at the Western 14-yard line. It was an 81-yard return for Walker that gave Eastern excellent field position, but the Hilltoppers' defense forced the Colonels to settle for a field goal.
In the end, it wasn't enough to prevent a 26-21 defeat. It was a difficult loss for the Hilltoppers, who pulled out a narrow victory over Eastern a year ago in Bowling Green and had won four straight meetings in the series since their last loss to the Colonels in 1999.
"It's pretty hard," Cloud said. "We fought to the end. We gave ourselves a shot; we just couldn't pull it out."
Five tackles so far
Cloud has five tackles in the Hilltoppers' first two games, including three solo stops in the season opener at Georgia. That's almost half of his total of 11 last season, when he played in all 11 games, primarily as a regular on special teams.
He seized an opening in Western's secondary in spring practice, fighting for and winning a starting spot.
"I had a pretty good spring and, at the end of the spring they put me in that No. 1 spot going into camp," he said.
But Cloud, a sophomore, said before practice resumed this summer that he wasn't going to take his position for granted, and he said Saturday he worked just as hard in August as in April.
"I just came out every day and did my job, played within the defense," he said. "It wasn't anything special; I just came out and did what they told me to do."
The 6-0, 200-pound Cloud is part of a Western secondary that includes senior cornerback Dennis Mitchell and junior free safety Marion Rumph, a preseason all-Gateway Football Conference selection.
"We've got some pretty good guys back there that have a lot of experience," he said.
Defense just needs a little tweaking
He said the Hilltoppers' defense has generally played well - Western gave up only 295 offensive yards against Georgia, and Eastern had only 272 yards and was outgained by the Hilltoppers - and needs only a little tweaking.
"I think we're playing pretty good right now," Cloud said. "We got a couple of big stops in the red zone and a couple of turnovers. Our defense did a good job with that. We've just got to get a couple of things worked out."
The Hilltoppers are 2 1/2 weeks from their conference opener against Western Illinois. First, they host Chattanooga in their home opener this Saturday, and Cloud said they're hoping to use that game and a friendly crowd at L.T. Smith Stadium to get on the right track.
"We're looking forward to it," Cloud said.