Secondary works to replace Hyde's presence


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Micah Hyde, the Big Ten’s top defensive back last season, is gone now.

His departure can mean any number of things. Some will view it as losing 240 career tackles, 8 interceptions, and 29 pass deflections. His shutdown ability in the Iowa secondary gave opposing offensive coordinators grey hairs.

But Tanner Miller sees it as an opportunity. He returns for his senior campaign as the most experienced member of the Iowa secondary, and he is ready to lead the Hawkeye defensive backs in 2013.

“This is what you look forward to,” Miller said at Iowa’s Media Day. “Being here those first three years and playing behind some of the guys that I did and saw the success that they had, that’s what you work for. Now that it’s here, I have to make the most of my opportunity and our opportunity as a defense.”

Miller is one of three returning starters in the Iowa secondary, alongside senior B.J. Lowery and junior Nico Law. Miller has a stranglehold on the free-safety position, mostly because of his 23-consecutive starts there.

Miller’s opposite at strong safety could be a battle between Law and junior John Lowdermilk. Lowdermilk was listed ahead of Law on the most recent depth chart.

Defensive coordinator Phil Parker said those two, along with freshman Ruben Lile, would contend for the spot through camp. Lowdermilk has a slight edge on the other two, he said, but he confirmed it’s a tight race.

Law’s starting experience at strong safety provides depth at the position — he made his way into the starting lineup for the final four games of last season and recorded 28 tackles.

“He’s been practicing hard,” Parker said. “So I’m really looking for a lot of positive things. We’ve just got to keep him healthy.”

Lowery and sophomore Jordan Lomax will likely be the starters at left and right cornerback, respectively. Lowery started nine games last season and tallied 50 tackles and 3 pass deflections.

Lomax will man the right side after sitting out last season with a shoulder injury suffered in the spring of 2012. He’s listed in front of senior Gavin Smith, who saw action in just one game last season. Smith owns no stats.

A talented pool of youth will also be apparent at the corners. Backing up Lowery and Lomax in the secondary will be sophomore Sean Draper, who lettered as a true freshman a year ago, along with freshmen Maurice Fleming and Desmond King.

The talent and depth has inspired confidence in a group after losing the lethal Hyde. That confidence, said Lowery, stems from their coach’s ability to focus on the details of their game.

“I just believe it’s coaching that’s got us to the point where we are right now,” Lowery said. “It’s all on Coach Parker. It’s really him.”

Parker expects the younger guys to improve as the season goes along. He said watching the more experienced players perform will bode well for depth at the position, and he anticipates further improvement from them in the coming years.

“What we’re trying to build is not only the first-team guys, we’re trying to build the next four guys [and] the next four,” Parker said. “I think we have a great group, and they’re ‘well-attentioned’ to what they’re doing.”

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