clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Mid-Season Grades: Defensive Backs

ISU has one of the best Secondaries in the Big 12

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Iowa State Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most forgotten and underrated groups of this Iowa State football team are the defensive backs.

Now, the word “forgotten” is a good thing when you mention the secondary. That means they’re doing their job, and this Cyclone fan base has been spoiled with the play of one of the best in the Big 12 Conference in Brian Peavy.

Peavy has continued to assert his dominance, shutting down the opponent’s top receivers and literally shutting down one side of the field. Fellow senior D’Andre Payne has been solid as well, and with his versatility even switched over to the safety/STAR role last week against West Virginia.

Akron v Iowa State
Peavy has been sensational this year
Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

Instead of talking about cornerbacks and safeties in two different articles, we will discuss the secondary as one unit.

The Cyclone pass defense ranks second in the Big 12 Conference, allowing an impressive 206 yards through the air, and that includes powerful passing teams in Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and West Virginia.

CRAZY STAT: Iowa State has played 13 different defensive backs so far this season, and not lost a step.

If there is one thing to talk about – its multiplicity. Cornerbacks coach DK McDonald and safeties coach/defensive coordinator Jon Heacock are fantastic at mixing and matching players all over the field. Players like Payne and Braxton Lewis are one of many to fill multiple positions.

Payne’s spot in the WVU game was vacated by two talented freshmen - Anthony Johnson, Jr. and Datrone Young, who have shined in their first few games on the field. Johnson is a taller corner who has already burned his redshirt, and Young was highly touted by this staff out of Florida.

The safeties have been terrific thus far, and none better than Greg Eisworth. The Ole Miss transfer ranks sixth in the conference in tackles, and has turned into one of the most productive players on D.

Iowa State v Iowa
Only a sophomore - Eisworth has been great
Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Walk-on Braxton Lewis has played at both the STAR and free safety spot, and come through in flying colors, picking off three passes on the year. It’s a team game, and as the defense has taken down quarterbacks 14 times in the last two weeks – and a lot of that is attributed to coverage downfield.

Iowa State and their bend-but-don’t break defense has yet to give up many deep passes, and with three safeties on the field – it has turned Jon Heacock into a genius, and he should be applauded for his accolades.

GRADE: A-Minus

If there was anything to nitpick it would be the lack of interceptions, but it doesn’t matter, as Peavy has been lights out and Payne solid as well. I foresee Eisworth and Peavy earning all-Big 12 honors by the end of the season, and #10 on his way to playing on Sundays.