Oct. 1, 2004
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Free safety Sean Considine won’t be suited up when Iowa takes on Michigan State for homecoming at 11:10 a.m. Saturday, but two sophomores hope to make their mark in the secondary despite the big shoes to fill.
“Hopefully I can do that,” said Miguel Merrick, who will move up to starting strong safety. “All the other guys who have stepped in, they’ve been able to step in and do a good job, so hopefully I can just do the same.”
On Saturday, Considine will miss his first game since his redshirt first season. His streak of 42 straight games and 17 consecutive starts has earned him 125 tackles and eight pass breakups.
The other sophomore, Marcus Paschal, had been the starting strong safety but will move over to free now that Considine is out of commission. Paschal moved into the position last week against Michigan after Considine’s foot was injured. Merrick had been second to Paschal at strong safety.
The senior said the sophomores did “what (the team) needed them to do” last week.
“They weren’t out of position,” Considine said. “They didn’t give up any big passes or plays or anything like that. I’m sure this week they’ve been coming in a little more than they usually would, studying film. They’ll be ready (for Saturday).”
The duo’s performances last week impressed Head Coach Kirk Ferentz as well.
“I was impressed by the fact that Marcus jumped back there the other day,” Ferentz said. “We haven’t had the luxury of practice with him back there. He wasn’t a grizzled veteran in the free safety position. I think he’ll have more on his place this week. It’s a real critical position for us in the secondary.”
Ferentz compared the free safety position to linebacker or quarterback and said that the free safety calls many of the signals.
“Some of the skills that you use are similar to strong (safety),” Ferentz added, “but the responsibilities are different. It’s kind of like the guard moving to center. It’s not an easy transition.”
As Merrick adds, there is no doubt that Considine’s absence will be keenly felt: “Definitely there is a void, because Sean’s such a great leader with everything that he brings to the table. He just has a wealth of knowledge. He pretty much knows the defense and every position on defense, so it always hurts when you lose a guy like that with his experience.”
Merrick was primarily a wide receiver at Emerson High School in Union City, NJ, and racked up 2,100 all-purpose yards his senior year. As a defensive back, he recorded four interceptions that year as well.
“I was impressed by the fact that Marcus jumped back there the other day. We haven’t had the luxury of practice with him back there. He wasn’t a grizzled veteran in the free safety position. I think he’ll have more on his place this week. It’s a real critical position for us in the secondary.”
Head Coach Kirk Ferentz on Marcus Paschal
As a Hawkeye, Merrick has played on special teams but has seen some success as a backup safety. He has 21 solo tackles, including a quarterback hit. Saturday’s matchup will be his first start.
Paschal’s past experience is very similar to Merrick’s, but the Largo, FL-native played quarterback as opposed to wide receiver.
Merrick’s QB hit may come in handy going up against MSU quarterback Drew Stanton, who is the Spartans’ leading rusher with 226 yards on 22 carries.
“We’re just basically going to try to put pressure on him and just try to go in there with a defensive plan and just execute it against him even though he runs a lot,” Merrick said. “That definitely does put pressure on the DBs because if a pass breaks down and he scrambles, we are going to have to be looking over our shoulders to see if he’s running.”
Considine says he’s been spending a lot of time with the two safeties despite his injury.
“I better be in here helping them out, watching film together,” he said. “Even though I’m hurt and not playing, it’s not like I’m not part of the team. I still want a ‘W’ this weekend, and I’m going to do whatever I can to get that.”
Considine says he feels that he should only miss one game, using next week’s bye week to finish rehab.
“If it was up to me, I would take this cast off and see what I can do this weekend,” he said. “Personally, I don’t think I’m going to miss any more than this game.”
Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com