(Here’s some more leftover from Tampa. This one focuses on the defensive line.)
After Florida International, it looked as though defensive ends Adrian Clayborn and Christian Ballard would stage a battle royale for Iowa’s season sacks leader.
Clayborn came away with a sack in that one and let everyone in on a little secret.
Clayborn and Ballard had a $50 bet on who would end up with the most sacks this season.
“Ballard and I have a competition going on,” Clayborn said. “We’ll see at the end of the year who gets the $50.”
Who knows if the bet came through. For the record, Clayborn finished with two sacks and Ballard had 1.5.
The bet in ’09 might be who moves inside. That was discussed with defensive coordinator Norm Parker during Outback week.
“We’ve got to look at that when we get going,” he said. “We’ve got to get the four best offensive linemen on the field at the same time. We’ve got a couple young kids in there we’re pretty high on. There’s always (Broderick) Binns. What do you do with Binns? You could have Binns, Ballard, Clayborn and Klug and Michael Daniels and Chad Geary.
“The idea is to try to get the best four guys on the field at the same time.”
Ballard and Clayborn are on record with being open to moving inside. Their thought is, “Whatever helps the team.”
Binns might have a say in the “best four on the field.”
The 6-foot-2, 250-pound sophomore produced in spot duty at defensive end this season. In Iowa’s tight 22-17 victory over Purdue, Binns recovered a fumble and deflected a pass that linebacker Pat Angerer intercepted, stopping a Purdue drive at the Iowa 5-yard-line.
He finished the season with 20 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss, including two sacks.
“Broderick’s a guy who’s quietly moving up the charts,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He really had a good bye week (in October). I don’t think we blocked him — all week. I joked that if he played for another team, we’d be in serious trouble because we haven’t blocked the guy.”
Binns could give the Hawkeyes options on the defensive line next season.
Clayborn and Ballard, juniors next season, have the bodies to take inside to the tackle positions. Clayborn weighs in at 282 and Ballard at 284 and that’s before the power portion (December through February) of Iowa’s offseason conditioning kicked in.
Clayborn, 48 tackles and eight tackles for loss, has said he’d be open to a move inside. “I’d do whatever they (coaches) want,” Clayborn said. “I want to help the team.”
A lot of eyes are on the D-line. It was source of such strength and consistency this season.
“I don’t know what options we’ll have, but the thing is, we’ve got Broderick and Chad Geary that we feel comfortable playing at any time, so there’s four guys right there we feel good about,” Ferentz said. “And we feel good about the way Karl Klug and Mike Daniels have come on and we’ve got Cody Hundertmark, who is rehabbing a shoulder surgery right now. We’ll worry about that when the time comes, but you want to have at least six, seven guys in the mix, and I think we’ll be able to get there.”
Geary, a senior defensive end, has primiarily been a spot player in his career.
Klug, a 6-4, 255-pound junior, and Daniels, a 6-1, 261-pound sophomore, might really, really matter. If they continue to develop, they could be your tackle tandem, at least in certain combinations, next fall. Hundertmark, a sophomore tackle, redshirted this season after having shoulder surgery.
“We’ve got some guys who haven’t played much, but have been in the system for two or three years, have been working under (strength coach Chris) Doyle and are smart enough and fast enough,” King said. “They know the system now. They’re not coming in like freshmen, like me and Matt in that first year.
“Karl and Mike and Cody Hundertmark coming back next year, Broderick Binns, you’ve seen these guys make plays this year. They haven’t played a lot, but when they get in there, they make plays. I’m excited. I don’t expect a dropoff like in ‘04 compared to what we had in ‘05, when we were all first-year and freshman starters. Before that season, I was a linebacker. It took me awhile. I’m expecting a really strong D-line.”
Let’s take a shot at some two deeps:
DE — Binns. He’s got good enough strength and quickness. He also has exceptionally long arms, which makes it tough for O-linemen to get in deep on him. He also produced in the limited playing time he received.
DT — Klug. Even though you’d consider him undersized, the guy just made play after play after play. The junior had five tackles for loss and two sacks in even less playing time that Binns. His biggest play of the season was against Penn State, when he broke through and took down RB Evan Royster for a loss on third down, forcing the Lions into a FG after a deep drive into Iowa territory.
DT — Clayborn. This is a strictly a guess. He’s a little more stout than Ballard. He could report in the 290s next fall. DT or DE, Clayborn is a disruptive player and will be one of the Hawkeyes’ most important players on defense next season.
DE — Ballard. I think he stays outside because of his range. He’s a little taller and so takes up a little more space. He was credited with five quarterback hurries. He didn’t get to the QB enough, but he was close and, in Iowa’s defense, that counts. You throw off the timing of a QB, you throw off the timing of an entire offense.
A possible second team:
DE — Geary. The walk-on from Tipton makes enough plays when he gets his chance. He could factor at tackle with a little bulking up, but wherever he plays, he’s been reliable depth so far during his career.
DT — Daniels. He is what King/Kroul where, undersized but strong in the waist and legs. Whether he punches through to the starting lineup or not, Daniels will be an important depth/rotation player in ’09.
DT — Hundertmark. His recovery from shoulder surgery will be the key to anything he does on the field this year.
DE — Joe Gaglione/LeBron Daniel. This is a race of the prospects. Iowa’s roster is carrying at least three project-type D-linemen, including freshman Steve Bigach in this group. This is also where you could maybe, perhaps see a linebacker switch over, someone like a Jacody Coleman, who’s listed at 6-3, 240.