Sept. 21, 2012
IOWA CITY, Iowa - University of Iowa assistant football coach Darrell Wilson is coaching the Hawkeye secondary for the first time in 2012, but he is no stranger to the Iowa defense, or the play of the secondary.
Wilson is in his 11th year on the Iowa coaching staff, working with the Iowa linebackers throughout the first 10 years on staff. But, Wilson coached secondary play earlier in his career and he was a Division I-AA All-American during his playing career at Connecticut.
"It's gone really well," said Wilson, of the coaching move. "What has helped is the fact that I've got a really good group of guys, a nice mixture of veterans and young guys. We have a talented group and they are very attentive and very willing to learn."
Iowa's starting secondary features two seniors and a pair of juniors. Senior cornerback Micah Hyde is in his third year as a starter, while senior strong safety Tom Donatell is starting for the first time. Junior free safety Tanner Miller compiled 11 starts prior to the start of this season, while junior cornerback B.J. Lowery had no previous starting experience.
"Sean and Kevin are two true freshmen who have played right away," noted Wilson. "Nico comes in and is a valuable asset as a back-up safety, as well as on special teams. And I really feel Tom Donatell has played well for us. The two young guys are very, very talented and that allows us to play the dime package along with our base defense."
Wilson feels as a group, the secondary has improved its man-to-man coverage, which helps the entire defense.
"I think our man technique, our man coverage, has really improved since the start of practice last spring until now," pointed out Wilson. That allows our defense to do different things up front, and it gives us more options in the back end as well in our coverages."
The Hawkeyes have faced different types of players in opposing quarterbacks through three games, and will face another veteran Saturday in Central Michigan senior Ryan Radcliff.
"Central Michigan has a good, sharp quarterback who is in his third year as a starter," said Wilson. "You know he can throw the ball, with over 7,000 career passing yards. They run a good, solid offense with a good group of receivers. We have watched a lot of film on different things they do in their passing game. This guy can really throw it around."
The Hawkeyes have faced solid quarterbacks in their first three games, including two offenses in the last two games that also like to throw the ball.
"The guys have done a good job of adapting to the different type quarterbacks we have faced," concluded Wilson. "The first guy was more of a runner, so we had to play well in the run game. The last two games, we've faced guys who throw the ball well; two good passing offenses. I thought we responded really well in the back end."
Iowa hosts Central Michigan Saturday at 11:01 a.m. (BTN) in Kinnick Stadium.