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    JonDMiller's Avatar
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    HawkeyeGameFilm: Spring Defense Analysis

    HawkeyeGameFilm takes a closer look at the Iowa defense based on his Open Practice observations from April 14th in Kinnick Stadium..

    DEFENSIVE LINE
    DE - Gaglione
    DT - Cooper
    DT - Trinca-Pasat
    DE - Bigach

    Starters

    A pretty tough day for the new look Iowa DL. They held their own at times but got pushed around an awful lot out there. They really struggled to find the football and make plays in the run game. They weren't getting much of a push as a unit in terms of a pass rush either. Neither DE was able to threaten the edge 1 on 1 & most of the defensive pressure came from stunts or blitz variations. The DTs struggled to compress the pocket with bull rushes & really weren't able to wreak much havoc. The good news is they’re likely to improve quite a bit before the first game of 2012 & the competition for playing time should raise the bar some as well.

    DEFENSIVE TACKLE

    Cooper had some bright moments and has a pretty quick first step. He wasn’t able to finish a lot of plays but was able to get penetration and disrupt some. Trinca-Pasat was quick off the ball at times as well but wasn’t overly effective throughout the day. Both DTs looked pretty raw and appeared to be just getting in the swing of things. Both should improve noticeably throughout fall camp and early next season. I would expect a pretty regular rotation early on to try and find the right combination of bodies. Iowa definitely needs a healthy Carl Davis to bolster their interior, especially against the run.

    DEFENSIVE END

    Bigach looked good at times and shed his block and made some plays. It was clear he’s going to be needed to provide leadership for this group and help get younger players up to speed. Gaglione had some moments out there as well but doesn't appear to be a starting caliber DE. He looks like a player who can give you some solid snaps as a depth guy but not as an every down guy. Iowa could definitely benefit from Dom Alvis coming back healthy off his ACL and be able to contribute for this unit.

    DEPTH

    As tough a day as it was for the 1's, the 2's may have been pushed around even more. It looked pretty clear the depth on the OL was solid and the DL has a ways to go to catch up. Running with the 2's were: Riley McMinn, Dean Tsopanides, Mike Hardy, & Melvin Spears. Pretty raw group overall and they are all undersized. This group has a ways to go & have some work to do in fall camp.

    Linebackers/Starting 3
    WLB - Hitchens
    MLB - Morris
    SLB - Kirksey

    It's clear the LB's and DB's will be the strength of this defense and I saw quite a few signs of quality LB play out there in the Spring practice. It was definitely a more aggressive unit than last year and it wasn't uncommon to see a LB shooting through a gap on a pass or coming on a run blitz. It looks like Phil Parker is going to use his mobile & quick LBs as blitzers more often than Iowa fans are used to.

    Starters

    It's hard to believe James Morris is only a JR this year & he looks to be healthy for the first time in quite awhile. He looked solid during drills and had that explosiveness out of cuts he was lacking much of the second half of 2011. He showed up knifing through the LOS and making a couple of TFLs in the scrimmage portion. Christian Kirksey looks to be picking up where he left off and was in sound position when I had my eyes on him. He's a very athletic linebacker and is very good in space. He was always around the ball last year and I'd expect he'll be the same this coming season. Anthony Hitchens appears to have taken control of the WLB spot and looks to be a very good fit.

    Overall this is a very athletic and rangy group of linebackers. They're all a bit undersized but it doesn't appear to hurt their effectiveness at this point. It will be interesting to see how they handle the young DL in front of them. They're likely to be fighting through a lot of traffic to make plays and will have to be on their game. With size being a factor, taking on lead blockers in holes could be an issue when teams run power looks. In coverage the group was very solid. They were blanketing guys underneath and passing off crossing routes very efficiently and cleanly. Zone coverage skills looks to be a strong point for this group.

    Depth

    It looks to me that the 4th LB would be Quinton Alston at this point. He's got very solid instincts and is a solid athlete for a middle linebacker. He had some sharp plays out there in the run game and blew up a screen play for a loss as well. Couple of guys caught my eye during position drills: #39 Travis Perry & #36 Cole Fisher. Both guys had were very fluid and showed natural ball skills during drills. Both are undersized at this point but both have very good athletic tools to work with. Perry was running with the 2's some in the scrimmage portion and appears to be staking out a spot in the 2 deep. Both should be viable options on special teams as well.

    Defensive Backs Starting 4:
    CB - Hyde
    CB - Lowery
    SS - Law
    FS - Miller

    Corners/Starters

    Looks to be a very solid unit at CB. Lowery & Hyde looked pretty good playing man coverage out there. This was a lot more physical than I've seen Iowa be on the outside. Could be the best corner tandem in the B1G this year. Lowery was very impressive during 1 on 1's, stuck to the WRs like glue. Very decisive plant & drive on outs & hitches. Hyde isn't quite as naturally quick as Lowery is but is still a very solid corner. Hyde is a very smart CB who can be very physical on the outside. Castillo appears to be the choice at Nickel DB for now. He took the outside when the D went nickel & Lowery slid down to the slot. Lot of press out of the nickel look. Castillo isn't a great athlete and doesn't have recovery speed if beat in man coverage, but he's a smart football player who can make some plays in sub-packages. Very solid unit.

    Depth
    Lot to like from Jordan Lomax out there. Has very solid CB tools, good speed and fluid hips. Ran with WRs with ease and showed ability to stop & start very easily. Made a great play against a big WR in Hillyer on a fade. Read the route well and funneled him to the sideline and got up the field in cut off Hillyer and broke up the play. Was a very nice piece of work. May not get to see the field on D much but looks like he'll be very solid special teams guy this year.

    A bit of a surprise was #30 Gavin Smith.. He was impressive in 1 on 1's and was eating up the WRs & batting balls away. Doesn't have a lot of size but is very quick. Gives Iowa some serious depth at CB. Definitely a guy who can be a solid depth guy at this point. Not sure if they'll red-shirt him to stagger eligibility or if he'll play special teams this year.

    Safeties
    SS
    Nico Law made his presence felt a number of times during the day. He took most of the reps with the 1s on D. He laid some big hits on backs and WRs when he got the chance. He drilled Bullock in run support, drawing "ohhs" & "ahhs" from fans, and took off Bullock's helmet in the process. He didn’t run through the hit and cleanly wrap and actually bounced back from the collision a bit. He put a shot on CJF in the flat as well. He has the right mentality and just needs a little more size and strength. He plays very quickly coming forward and overall looked very comfortable in the box. Took good angles in run support and closed very quickly most of the time. Lot to like about Law, who is only a sophomore. Both Sleeper & Donatell provide depth at SS. Both guys have experience and can step in if needed. Donatell looked a bit lighter and quicker out there to me through-out the day.

    FS
    Miller looks to be settling in rather nicely as a leader in the defensive backfield. He's got some solid experience going into his JR year and is an effective player in both phases of the game. Appears to be adjusting nicely to the more aggressive scheme Iowa was running out here as well. Did get caught out of position once or twice and did give up big play to Don Shumpert on a PA Post. Lowery blitzed off the corner with Miller filling for him, and Shumpert came down like he as going to stalk block Miller. Instead he side stepped him and burst up the field and JVB hit him for a big completion. It was a tough position to be caught in because he had man coverage filling for the blitzing CB and couldn't put his eyes into the back-field to read the PA fake. It's the little things like this that Iowa's DBs will need to adjust to with a more aggressive scheme, but the physical tools are there.

    Depth looks to be a bit of an issue behind Miller. Swanson is the only guy who's been in the system for awhile at FS & depth is definitely a concern at the FS spot. Lowdermilk ran with the 2s some and may be a possibility down the line. I would guess Colin Sleeper would be the guy they go with if Miller is hurt at any point.
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    Last edited by JonDMiller; 04-16-2012 at 07:49 AM.

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    Re: HawkeyeGameFilm: Spring Defense Analysis

    Who is "HawkeyeGameFilm"? Maybe I've missed it if it's been answered already.
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    Re: HawkeyeGameFilm: Spring Defense Analysis

    Quote Originally Posted by hogeye View Post
    Who is "HawkeyeGameFilm"? Maybe I've missed it if it's been answered already.
    From the spring game offensive thread...

    NOTE: HawkeyeGameFilm is a former Division 1 football player and has performed scouting work during his post-college career.
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    Re: HawkeyeGameFilm: Spring Defense Analysis

    Quote Originally Posted by hogeye View Post
    Who is "HawkeyeGameFilm"? Maybe I've missed it if it's been answered already.
    Per Jon
    "NOTE: HawkeyeGameFilm is a former Division 1 football player and has performed scouting work during his post-college career."
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    "My only belief is that I don't know sh!t " HawkeyeDug.

    "But at the end of the day, it's good to win, it's bad to lose, and that's really how it is in college football." KF

    "Our opponent right now is ourselves. Our challenge is how much can we improve." RM

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    Re: HawkeyeGameFilm: Spring Defense Analysis

    Ok, so we're not getting a name...that's what I am getting at. The anonymity doesn't make sense to me, but so be it.
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    Re: HawkeyeGameFilm: Spring Defense Analysis

    Quote Originally Posted by hogeye View Post
    Who is "HawkeyeGameFilm"? Maybe I've missed it if it's been answered already.
    Here ya go:

    NOTE: HawkeyeGameFilm is a former Division 1 football player and has performed scouting work during his post-college career.
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    woodyk1's Avatar
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    Re: HawkeyeGameFilm: Spring Defense Analysis

    Quote Originally Posted by hogeye View Post
    Who is "HawkeyeGameFilm"? Maybe I've missed it if it's been answered already.


    OK, not really.
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    Re: HawkeyeGameFilm: Spring Defense Analysis

    Quote Originally Posted by woodyk1 View Post
    OK, not really.
    I know that's not true or we'd only be getting QB talk.
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    Re: HawkeyeGameFilm: Spring Defense Analysis

    Im guessing he is herby.
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    Re: HawkeyeGameFilm: Spring Defense Analysis

    Quote Originally Posted by Section136 View Post
    Im guessing he is herby.
    It's better than my original guess when he first surfaced.
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    Re: HawkeyeGameFilm: Spring Defense Analysis

    Quote Originally Posted by hogeye View Post
    Ok, so we're not getting a name...that's what I am getting at. The anonymity doesn't make sense to me, but so be it.
    My guess would be Derek Pagel, but it doesn't matter if we know who it is or not it is good stuff. Lot of terminolgy and technical stuff that I don't know or can't explain because I never played.

    I am pretty much with everybody else I think the back 7 will be fine. Really not to worried about it.

    Good to read about Morris being more explosive,hopefully he is more aggressive and attacking more he will have to be to stay in the middle.
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    "Pressure is something you feel when you don't know what you're doing." --Chuck Noll

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    Re: HawkeyeGameFilm: Spring Defense Analysis

    Quote Originally Posted by trj View Post
    I am pretty much with everybody else I think the back 7 will be fine. Really not to worried about it.
    Based on HawkeyeGameFilm's analysis, instead of using a 4-3-4 or a 3-4-4 defense maybe we should be innovative with a 0-5-6 alignment.
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    Re: HawkeyeGameFilm: Spring Defense Analysis

    OK - let's just be honest: Our defensive line is gonna SUCK

    Which means our team will not be good.

    5 Wins 7 Losses

    Long season folks
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    Re: HawkeyeGameFilm: Spring Defense Analysis

    It sounds like PP is going to be more aggressive on D, and hopefully with those corners we can use a bit more blitzing from the LBers. If this were last year I would have been extremely disappointed, but now, I'm at least excited to see what we can do. It may not be pretty, and I doubt extremely effective, but it won't be as vanilla, which is good. I hope the secondary can deliver as stated.
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    Re: HawkeyeGameFilm: Spring Defense Analysis

    If the back seven is good, they can cover for the youth up front,just like it can work vice versa. Take NW...they were last in the Big Ten in sacks last year,but still went to a bowl...did not suck.
    Dom Alvis and Carl Davis need to come back,and have big years. If this happens,they will change this d-line rotation radically,and the teams fortunes. Fans tend to forget that Iowa did not even have a healthy Daniels or Nardo last year for most of the year. So, Binns was the only real loss from most of the Big Ten season. Meanwhile,does anyone remember how Mitch King and Matt Kroul did in spring game before they started their run at dtackle? No, King started as a true frosh,and Kroul was converting from LB his redshirt year. Lets wait before writing off this team,ok?
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