Through three Iowa football games, we’ve hardly seen the 4-2-5 defense that we saw ran so effectively last year. Phil Parker has now provided some clarity.
Last year, we saw quite the evolution from the Iowa football team as they added a nickel package (the 4-2-5) to their defense in order to utilize the skill set of Amani Hooker and get Geno Stone on the field. With Hooker gone, many of the questions surrounding the defense started and ended with who would be taking Hooker’s place in the 4-2-5.
We got that answer as redshirt freshman DJ Johnson won the job, but against Miami (OH), the Iowa football team spent less than 10 snaps in their nickel package. And then the injuries started to pile up, and at this point, the 4-2-5 has essentially been non-existent.
With coordinator press conferences yesterday though, we finally received answers to our questions about what is going on with the 4-2-5. And to be honest, it’s kind of as we expected.
First of all, the injuries to the secondary have caused quite a reshuffling and it has forced Phil Parker and the Iowa football team’s defense to stick to their base 4-3 package. Second, there just hasn’t been as much of a need right now.
According to Parker though, the 4-2-5 is not dead, but it may look a bit different this season, at least until the injury bug runs away.
Parker had this to say about the 4-2-5 and whether or not it’s still in play this season:
"I think we’ll go both ways, depending on who we are playing and what their personnel is going to be. If we can adjust, we’re going to try and get into match personnel as much as we can."
That makes sense, but it seems like against Iowa State, given the personnel they continually showed (3 and 4 WR), it would have made sense to switch over, but injuries caused some issues with this too.
"Obviously limited us with some of the guys injured on the back end with our package, so we moved D.J. back out to the corner spot and that’s where he ended up. A little bit of lack of depth might have hurt us a little bit."
With a bye week that quite possibly couldn’t have been better timed, there is a chance we get some of these injured guys back. Merriweather, Brents, and Hankins all appear to be guys who might have a shot at playing against Middle Tennessee State, but so far DJ Johnson has looked pretty good in the corner role which means there might be a need at the cash position.
Enter true freshman Dane Belton who had an outstanding camp, and according to Parker, appears to be very much in the mix for playing time this season if injuries continue to derail the Iowa football team’s secondary.
"We’ll use some other guys. We’ll use Belton there a little bit, help us out a little bit. But it’s hard, you only have so many guys you can practice with and I’m getting slim back there."
Although it hasn’t hurt the Hawkeyes yet, a good chunk of the teams they are facing in Big Ten play run a spread attack that would seemingly mandate the 4-2-5’s presence.
Moreover, DJ Johnson’s rebound after an early game snafu at Iowa State gives me and, hopefully, other Iowa football fans some excitement about what he could bring to the Cash position.
But let’s not forget, until last season, this nickel package was never prevalent, and the Iowa football team’s defense was still pretty darn good. At least now we have clarity on what the future of the 4-2-5 beholds.