I’ve often said that you can usually have a great defense in college football whenever you have two smart starting safeties with experience in place. The Iowa Hawkeyes currently lead the nation in total defense (227.5), rank third in rushing defense (65.5) and fifth in scoring defense (12.0).
A big part of that comes from the heads up play and solid run support of their starting safeties Tyler Sash (19 tackles and 2 pass breakups) and Brett Greenwood (13 tackles, one for a loss and an interception).
By Paul M. Banks
Both have of these in-state products have NFL measurables and potential. Tyler Sash a 6-1, 210 junior from Oskaloosa, Iowa is the starter on the strong side. And he’s about the same size as starting free safety Brett Greenwood, a 6-0 200 pound senior from Bettendorf.
Sash dicussed why the Hawks have such a great run defense. “Our up front guys make so many plays and get a lot of pressure on the the quarterback. There’s 5-6 of them who can all rush the passer and disrupt the run.”
He also talked about what a great role model Brett has been for him.
“He prepares well throughout the week and knows a couple of things that they’re going to do here and there, giving tips and keys. He’s kind of been my mentor ever since I got here, pressing forward with me,” he said.
Sash has 11 career interceptions, which ties for sixth in school history. His total return yards rank fifth best all-time, in the Big Ten Conference, for all games. He led Iowa with six interceptions in 2009, a total that ties as sixth best in a single season, and tied the single-game record with three interceptions in a win at Iowa State. However, he is yet to record a pick in 2010.
“I think that’s just the way things have gone, I don’t know if they’re throwing at me or not. You prepare yourself to be in those positions, but if the ball’s not coming, it’s hard,” he said.
Greenwood is tied for 17th in career interceptions, collecting the eighth theft of his career against Iowa State this season. Four of his career interceptions have come against Iowa State.
“When he first got here we were both sort of young, and we’ve always been together learning, and in the film room so it’s been a progression,” Greenwood said about his continuity with Sash.
Iowa is ranked 17th in the Associated Press poll and USA Today Coaches poll. The Hawkeyes were ranked as
high as fifth in one pre-season poll (Playboy). Their homecoming opponent Saturday night, Penn State is ranked 22nd in the AP poll and 20th in the USAToday Coaches poll.
I asked Greenwood what the key is to keeping this defense ranked number one.
“Just keep improving each week, like coach Ferentz said each week builds on each week,” he responded.Follow paulmbanks