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Demaryius Thomas vs. Amari Spievey

Note: This was supposed to publish at 8AM but it seems there has been some issues with the scheduling of posts. Either way, here you go.

Two guys. One catches all of our passes. One hits guys that catch passes. I'm not familiar with the Hawkeyes' defensive backfield philosophy (boundary/strong side/man-man) but based on talent alone I'm assuming Amari Spievey will be assigned to defend Demaryius Thomas a majority of the time. Black Heart Gold Pants said this of Spievey:

We haven't seen Spievey get "beaten" very much; usually, if someone completes a throw on him, it's a pass to the flat, and it ends with Amari putting his helmet through the player's femur and ending the play.

The match up is not the first this season for Thomas against talented players in the secondary. Thomas' statistically worst game was against the Tarheels. Two All-ACC performers in Deunta Williams and Kendric Burney were assigned to Bay Bay but in limiting Thomas, the Tarheels couldn't slow down the rushing attack. They sacrificed run support for stopping Thomas and his big plays. UNC didn't win but they limited our deep passing game.

Wake Forest limited Thomas, as well. Wake defended the edge and the pass with great discipline but sacrificed the dive. Jonathan Dwyer racked up 200 yards because of it. Wake limited the QB and A-Backs to 5.4 yards per carry but gave up a whopping 8.7 yards per carry to Dwyer and Preston Lyons. (averaged between the two)

The problem presented to defensive coordinators is that wide receivers in Paul Johnson's offense are expected to block. Thomas is a big dude and he enjoys leveling unsuspecting defensive backs - particularly safeties on the triple option. Because of his excellent blocking ability, we typically run to Demaryius' side of the field. Corners have to keep their eyes in the backfield in case it's play action or an option-pass. The worst place to be on defense when playing against a Paul Johnson offense is at the point of attack. For the most part, we'll be lead blocking all of our edge plays with Demaryius Thomas and the corner matched up with him will be catching Hell all night. If Thomas isn't picking up the corner, then a tackle or slot back will. The corner's gotta be able to take a beating and just be prepared to force the slot backs back inside or beat the block and make a tackle. If Spievey can't make 5-6 solo tackles in this game, I don't see Iowa's defense having much success at all

Outside the realm of blocking, Bay Bay has become a pretty refined wide receiver in Johnson's offense. He has an excellent ability to fake corners. He beats guys on jump balls with regularity and is fast enough to beat safeties in single coverage. Norm Parker's guys have got their hands full.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Demaryius in one on one at first just so Norm can see how the talent lines up. It would take a nasty turnover for Paul Johnson to stop going to Demaryius Thomas deep. Even then, if it were a poorly thrown ball, I wouldn't be surprised if we kept going his way. Seeing as Iowa's defense relies on the front seven, we should probably expect an unusual mix of passing to start the game. Like BHGP said, this battle could be an important part in determining the winner of the looming Iowa-GT War.

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