Posted by: marcmwm | August 23, 2008

For starters: Bradley Fletcher . . .

On paper, I believe this group has a chance to be very good.

At left cornerback, senior Bradley Fletcher has size, speed and enough experience to not tighten up one-on-one in front of 70,000.

Right corner is a little bit of a question mark. The job seems to want to go to Jordan Bernstine, but he’s been hurt. I think Amari Spievey gets a long, long look here and if not hurt then for sure at nickleback.

To me, the untrained eye without the benefit of seeing it on film, I thought freshman Tyler Sash was the most active strong safety at last Saturday’s open scrimmage. And he’s No. 3, behind Lance Tillison and Harold Dalton. This is almost a Greenway-Worthy situation. Remember in 2003, when Greenway the underclassman unseated Kevin Worthy the upper classman? Sophomore Lance Tillison and senior Harold Dalton are locked in that kind of battle.

Sophomore Brett Greenwood holds free safety. I think I’ve written this in the past and if I haven’t I’m writing it now, Greenwood was the most improved Hawkeye last season. The progress he made from Penn State to Illinois was fantastic. Defensive backs coach Phil Parker would tell you that Greenwood needs to build on that and he’d be right.

I like the depth here. True freshmen William Lowe and Shaun Prater will probably play, at least on special teams. Diauntae Morrow is Greenwood’s backup. He burned a redshirt last season, so he’s going to want to play. David Cato is a true freshman who might factor into special teams.

Lots of good-looking athletes here. Can they cover? We’ll see.

Hawks’ Fletcher: Short on talk, long on action

By Marc Morehouse
Photo

(Brian Ray/The Gazette)
Iowa defensive back Bradley Fletcher, posing during the team’s media day Aug. 4, may not say much to the media, but he can be a force on the field.

 

IOWA CITY — You wouldn’t know it by talking to him, but you don’t want to get on Bradley Fletcher’s bad side.

The Iowa senior cornerback is friendly if not a little quiet, which isn’t great in an interview situation. Interview, schminterview. You care only about Fletcher’s football, which was a big-time bright spot last season.

“Once he gets fired up, he’s a guy who’s scary,” senior strong safety Harold Dalton said. “Oh, my God. If you get him angry, he’s unstoppable. He’s one of the most athletic guys on the team and probably the fastest guy on the team.”

You just wouldn’t know it by talking to him.

l What did you learn from your experience last season, which included four starts, 53 tackles (third among defensive backs) and two interceptions?

“Everyone who’s a senior is looking to play at their best potential,” Fletcher said.

l Do you feel your performance last season earned you a spot this year?

“I’m in competition just like everybody else. It’s part of the deal. Everybody’s in competition.”

l What’s a defensive back want? An interception or a big hit?

“Umm, I think we just want to make the big play. That’s what it’s about. Make the big play. It could be an interception or a stop on a third down. That’s the same with any other position.”

Interview, schminterview. You care only about the football. Fletcher’s football was fine last season.

Fletcher’s first start came against Indiana and wide receiver James Hardy and quarterback Kellen Lewis.

Lewis went on to an all-Big Ten season. You’ll be drafting Hardy, now of the Buffalo Bills, in your upcoming fantasy leagues.

The Hoosiers duo picked on Fletcher for a 71-yard TD that gave IU a 21-0 first half lead in Indiana’s 38-20 victory at Kinnick Stadium. You’re talking the Big Ten’s top QB-WR combo last season with 16 TD receptions. That’s going to happen, especially considering the first start thing.

The next time Fletcher saw significant time was after senior Adam Shada left the Michigan State game with an injury.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder recorded a career-high 13 tackles and forced a fumble in Iowa’s double-overtime victory.

Fletcher got the start the next week at Northwestern and responded with a team-high 12 tackles and his first career interception.

He started the next week against Minnesota and picked off another pass. In Iowa’s finale, he had another 13 tackles.

“He was very productive,” defensive backs coach Phil Parker said. “I could tell you all the things he did wrong. I always think he can do better. He’s got a chance to be a better football player than he was for games that he started.”

This is Fletcher’s fifth year but it’s his first time in the spotlight as “the guy” at left corner.

Given a chance to talk about the possibilities, he demurred.

“He’s a very open guy,” Dalton said. “Maybe not with the media and stuff like that, but he’s one of my best friends on the team. He’s a very open guy, but he’s also very quiet. That’s just his personality.”

Iowa’s secondary needs a veteran voice. Dalton, a fifth-year senior, fills the role well, but he’s being pushed hard at strong safety by sophomore Lance Tillison and red-shirt freshman Tyler Sash.

Brett Greenwood seems to have free safety locked down, but he’s a sophomore. Right corner is down to sophomore Jordan Bernstine, senior Drew Gardner and sophomore Amari Spievey.

The role of a fifth-year senior starter includes leadership, especially this season. It’s starting to come out of Fletcher, little by little.

“He’s a very quiet leader, but there were a couple times today (during practice) when he went ahead and stepped up and said some things trying to get the guys going,” Parker said. “He’s very quiet, so it’s hard for him to go out there and be a vocal guy. He leads by example. When you lead by example, that’s a good way to go.”

One thing Fletcher did talk about, a little anyway, was his May graduation with a degree in health and sports studies.

“It felt good having mom and dad come up, walking across the stage,” he said. “It was a good day.”

That said a lot without saying much.

n Contact the writer: (319) 398-8256 or marc.morehouse@gazcomm.com

Breaking down DBs at Iowa
DEPTH CHART

Left cornerback: Bradley Fletcher, sr., 6-2, 200; Amari Spievey, so., 6-0, 190; Shaun Prater, fr., 5-11, 172

Right cornerback: Jordan Bernstine, so., 5-11, 203; Drew Gardner, sr., 5-10, 186; William Lowe, fr., 5-9, 165

Strong safety: Harold Dalton, sr., 6-1, 201; Lance Tillison, so., 6-2, 213; Tyler Sash, #fr., 6-1, 210

Free safety: Brett Greenwood, so., 6-0, 200; Diauntae Morrow, so., 6-0, 195; David Cato, fr., 5-11, 190

INSIDE THE HUDDLE

Right cornerback might be a hole in the depth chart. Sophomore Jordan Bernstine, penciled in as the starter, left last Saturday’s open scrimmage with what appeared to be a hamstring injury. He’s coming off shoulder surgery that kept him out of spring practice. “We really haven’t seen him tackle much at this time,” said Coach Kirk Ferentz. “That’s a concern because that’s a part of the game.

Senior Drew Gardner, No. 2 on the depth chart, sat out the scrimmage.
Freshmen Shaun Prater and William Lowe saw extensive time with the second-team defense. They likely will play this year rather than red-shirt.
At a minimum, they’ll be in competition for spots in the nickel package.
That could be in obvious passing situations or on early downs against spread teams.

Strong safety Tyler Sash made a ton of plays last Saturday. He picked off one pass and should’ve had at least one more. He tackles fearlessly and ferociously. This might be the team’s most competitive position.

RETURN MAN

Sophomore Amari Spievey is back after spending last season at Iowa Central Community College because of academics.

He wasn’t sitting on his hands while working on his grades, earning junior college All-American honors. The 6-0, 190-pounder picked off seven passes and scored
our TDs (two interception returns and two kickoff returns).

“Well, being kicked out, you know, it was like a wake-up call,” said Spievey (pronounced Spuh-vey), who saw considerable time with the No. 1s last Saturday. “It’s like my second chance, so I want to make the best out of it. It’s my last chance.”

Spievey could make his biggest contributions on special teams.
He blocked four punts last season. Iowa coaches are trying him at kick return, gunner on punt coverage and on field goal block.

“I love to play special teams,” he said. “I’m trying to help anywhere I can.”

HAWKEYES BOWL IF …

This group plays up to its potential. The Hawkeyes have no shortage of speedy athletes with size and attitude in the secondary. If anything holds them back, it would be experience.

HAWKEYES HOME IF …

The experience factor bites them. Fletcher, Dalton and Greenwood have 27 career starts among them. The rest of the names on the depth chart have little or no experience. Gardner did make the game-winning tackle last season against Michigan State, though.

— Marc Morehouse

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: