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Who's Your Starter: Cornerback #2

QB: Austen Arnaud (So.)
RB: Alexander Robinson (So.)
TE: Derrick Catlett (Jr.)
WR: Marquis Hamilton (Jr.)
WR: RJ Sumrall (Sr.)
WR: Sedrick Johnson (Fr.)
LT: Matt Hulbert (So.)
LG: Reggie Stephens (Jr.)
C: Alex Alvarez (So.)
RG: Ben Lamaak (So.)
RT: Doug Dedrick (Sr.)

WE: Rashawn Parker (Jr.)
DT: Bailey Johnson (So.)
NG: Nate Frere (Jr.)
DE: Kurtis Taylor (Sr.)
SLB: Michael Bibbs (Sr.)
MLB: Jesse Smith (Jr.)
WLB: Josh Raven (Jr.)
CB: Chris Singleton (Sr.)

More close polling has Chris Singleton taking the #1 cornerback spot from Allen Bell. I'd expect most Cyclone fans to pencil in A.B. for the second cornerback spot. Since I don't want to rehash all the names, I figured I'll take this spot to address my optimism about our secondary, especially the cornerbacks.

Injuries last year forced our top three cornerbacks in Singleton, Bell and Devin McDowell to be thrown into the fire immediately. Here's a look at how our cornerbacks fared last year, and their improvement through the season. I'm going to leave out Drenard Williams, who has since left the team, and focus on the returners.

Game Pass D Singleton Bell McDowell Sandvig
Kent St. 17-26, 161 3 tkl, 1 int 5 tkl, 1 BrUp 1 tkl 1 tkl
UNI 23-29, 180 4 tkl 5 tkl 1 tkl
Iowa 12-23, 118 5 tkl, 1 BrUp 7 tkl
Toledo 12-27, 199 1 tkl 8 tkl, .5 TFL 3 tkl
Nebraska 12-29, 239 8 tkl, 1 int 2 tkl, 1 FR
Tex Tech 40-49, 460 5 tkl 1 tkl 1 tkl
Texas 23-31, 298 6 tkl 7 tkl 1 tkl
Oklahoma 16-28, 183 7 tkl, 1 TFL 6 tkl, 1 int
Mizzou 28-37, 250 2 tkl 3 tkl 3 tkl, 1 int
K-State 28-45, 347 6 tkl, 2 int 1 int 2 tkl
Colorado 23-40, 262 5 tkl 6 tkl 3 tkl
Kansas 30-35, 354 0 tkl 3 tkl 2 tkl

So, how far are these passing yard totals off from the normal production for each team?

Team Avg. vs. ISU Departure
Kent St. 166 161 -5
UNI 230 180 -50
Iowa 190 118 -72
Toledo 239 199 -40
Nebraska 323 239 -84
Tx Tech 470 460 -10
Texas 255 298 +43
Oklahoma 258 183 -75
Mizzou 314 250 -64
K-State 285 347 +62
Colorado 234 262 +28
KU 291 354 +63

So, it's interesting to note how many times ISU held their opponent below their season average in passing yards in any given game - and, they won in two out of the four games when they didn't. One game we didn't win, the Oklahoma game, easily sticks out as the most impressive game of the year, with Sam Bradford being one of the top QBs in the nation, and the Iowa State secondary making him look merely average, including Chris Singleton spearing him on a fourth down jaunt to deny him the sticks, as well as Allen Bell's superhuman interception return.

Draw your own conclusions - was it because of a solid pass defense? Was it because of a focus on the run? Either way, we can see that there is definite potential in the secondary corps. The cornerback group has three guys that are learning the Tampa 2 on the fly, and we saw marked improvement into the end of the Big 12 season (the KU slaughterfest notwithstanding). If these guys can make the jump, and adjust to a defense they're still learning, there's a chance that the cornerbacks will be the lynchpins of our defense. Throw in the fact that two of our top recruits from last year, Leonard Johnson and Ter'Ran Benton, come in, and may see time this year, and it's certainly one of the more encouraging parts of our team to look at.