Spring Game Review: Defense

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Secondary

I'll start off with the good news first. Despite losing both starting safeties, Iowa's defensive backfield looks pretty strong. Prater looked good in practice. I only remember one time any quarterback throwing in his direction and he had great coverage but Keenan Davis made an even greater catch. I think Prater pretty much looked down his side of the field otherwise.

The opposite starting corner was Greg Castillo. It has been a long time since Castillo saw significant game time (the start of the 2009 season when Prater was suspended), but he played well on Saturday. He had a near pick off of a poor throw into traffic from Vandenberg. And then followed it up just 3 plays later with an INT.

The other corners that saw time were B.J. Lowery and Jordan Bernstine. Lowery had an interception of his own (which I guess has been a common thing this spring according to Norm Parker [pdf]). I think he has a little bit of work to do still if he wants to challenge for a starting spot. Steven Staggs was getting open a lot on Lowery's side of the field.

I think Bernstine will finally get on the field this year and see significant minutes. The coaches just need to figure out where he fits. He played pretty well backing up Prater at corner and also looked good at safety. There was one rushing play that stuck in my head where he flew down to the line of scrimmage and laid a good hit on the running back. I think safety, but we'll see.

As for the other safeties...Hyde seemed decent back at free safety. I never saw him way out of position or anything but don't recall him making any big plays. Similarly Collin Sleeper looked decent as well, but didn't stand out to me at all.

Linebackers

The linebackers were pretty quite during the scrimmage. Maybe the lack of contact diminished their role, but I just didn't notice them. I didn't really see any glaring issues though, so there's that. Fiedorowicz did absolutely blow up one of the WLBs though (I can't remember if it was Kirksey or Hitchens) on a hook route. He just ran right at defender, laid down a good hit then turned around and looked to get the ball (he didn't get it thrown his way). The small LBs will be fine for all the spread looks Iowa will be facing this year, but be glad we don't have Wisconsin on the schedule.

Defensive line

The depth along the defensive line looked pretty suspect. The first team offensive line absolutely killed the second team defensive line. The starters played okay though and held their own against the twos on the O-line.

Binns was a guy that stood out to me and he showed some versatility. He had a tipped pass with his long arms, dropped into coverage and broke up a pass against Brad Herman on a zone blitz, and had a "sack" on the first play of the situation scrimmage. Binns had a quite year last year, but hopefully he is back to his 2009 form.

Carl Davis and Dominic Alvis both played some as the first team tackle not name Mike Daniels. They were both getting pushed around a bit but made a couple of nice plays.

Also worth noting, Mike Hardy had an interception.
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