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I'm starting to really believe that the 2013 version of the Iowa Hawkeye defense is going to surprise some folks.
For the sake of discussion and the fact that only Sports being talked about right now are
College Softball?, soccer ( I don't mind that) and maybe golf, here's my lineup for Fall.
DE DT DT DE
Dom Alvis Carl Davis LTP D Cooper
Faith Ek/Spears Jaleel Johnson Hardy/Coop Drew Ott/ R McMinn/ DVC?
A Hitchens J Morris C Kirksey
T Perry Q Alston L Taylor/John Kenny
CB BJ Lowery CB J Lomax
M Fleming ? Mabin/Gair
FS SS John Lowdermilk
Tanner Miller Nico Law
Ruben Lile ?
I'm really starting to like the first 14, or so guys who are going to make up the CORE of this defense.
Senior leadership at the Linebacker position. Experience at Safety, some at Def Line, too.
'Texan by birth, Hawkeye by the Grace of God'
I have no doubt that the defense will be better this season, but for the team to have a better record with a tougher schedule, a lot of things will have to fall in line, not just on defense, but on offense as well. The two go hand-in-hand, in the sense that if our offense cannot stay on the field, the defense will wear down.
There probably aren't that many question marks in terms of the starters in the front seven, but the DBs could have a lot of flux from now until the B10 season starts. The LBs are set and the DL for the most part is set in terms of the players in the rotation. The question will be who gets the most playing time moving forward. Davis has taken strides and may finally be an impact player, and I think Ott and McMinn are comers. My only prediction here is that Jaleel Johnson will end up getting more playing time than Cooper. I was really impressed with Johnson in the spring game. He's quick and disruptive. Cooper, to me, has been more hype than substance, but obviously still has time to step up his game.
The DB battle is going to be interesting to watch. Like most fans, I'd like to see Law and Lile grab spots, but whoever is out there, they are going to have to demonstrate better instincts and recognition than we saw last season.
Watching the spring game and seeing big Carl make plays was incredibly encouraging to me. I agree with the idea that the D is going to be much more exciting to watch this year.....but it all comes back to the QB and OC....and I was a bit surprised by the OLine not playing as well as I expected....but I can't wait for 31 August to get here to see how it all turns out.
I'd be happy if the defense could improve its perimeter speed. Last season, teams got the corner with relative ease. Think the Hawks can knock down what's in front of them with little difficulty. Controlling change of direction in the rushing of the QB and keeping contain on the corner remains paramount.
I like where Iowa stands at defensive tackle, all three linebacker spots, and both corner spots. Those other four positions (two defensive ends and two safeties) will determine - to a certain extent - how good Iowa's defense can be in 2013. I think there are some signs of encouragement at all four, but it's still too early for me to be sold on any of them. If Iowa can have breakout seasons for multiple players at those four spots, and remain healthy along the rest of the defense, then that unit has a realistic chance to take some major strides in 2013.
Just a quick point of clarification, Greg Mabin and Anthony Gair are playing safety, not corner.
Phil Parker was interviewed at the Spring Game and he stated that
Tanner Miller was playing very well, this spring.
So, I'm gonig to question your questioning at one Safety position, Todd.
That being said, I can be a bit optimistic about the Hawkeyes.
Parker obviously saw Miller play more than anyone not affiliated with the program did. But in that situation, most coaches are going to praise their players to the media. Ferentz praised Miller to the media last season, and at the time, Miller was playing like a below average safety in the B1G. I don't have a problem with the coaches sticking up for their players in the press, but I don't think we can read too much into that public support. I don't think we'll know for sure where Miller is at until the fall.
I really like all the big bodies on the interior DL and obviously the LBs. For me, the question is who's going to bring pressure off the edge? We all know the stats: Iowa was 115th out of 124 D-I teams with only 13 sacks in 12 games last year and the team's leader had all of 5 and he's gone. Someone needs to step up. The line starts with Phil Parker and his game plan.
I completely agree with you.
This. Either Iowa has to develop a good rush from its DE's, or start blitzing LB's. The lack of pressure on the QB last year was disturbing.
As I mentioned in an article last week, I think one possible remedy is to use Kirksey, Morris or Hitchens at defensive end in long yardage situations. That wouldn't solve the problem on plays where it isn't an obvious passing situation, but it could help Iowa get off the field on third down.
In 2012, Michigan was struggling to apply pressure with the front four, and would put Jake Ryan (their best linebacker) at defensive end in obvious passing situations to help generate more pressure. I think Iowa can use a similar approach if need be.
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