Sept. 12, 2009
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AMES, Iowa – Tyler Sash, the University of Iowa’s hard-hitting defensive back, was just this close to speechless.
“I don’t really know how to answer that one,” he said when told by Gary Dolphin of the Hawkeye Radio Network that he’s only 11 interceptions shy of Nile Kinnick’s school record.
It was more than a fair question of a superior student-athlete who is on a roll along with his defensive teammates. Sash had just completed a record-tying day, grabbing three picks in the Hawkeyes’ 35-3 romp over intrastate rival Iowa State in the annual Hy-Vee Cy-Hawk Series game. It was Iowa’s second straight win in the series and its first in Jack Trice Stadium since 40-21 win in 2003.
The three interceptions meant that the 6-foot-1, 210-pound sophomore from Oskaloosa, had tied the school record set by linebacker Grant Steen for picks in a game and had six interceptions in his last four games. Kinnick-like numbers after a Kinnick-like day.
Oh, yeah, Sash also finished Saturday’s game with a team-high 10 tackles, a total that included eight solo stops, two for losses and a forced fumble…numbers that just may land him Big Ten Conference and, perhaps, national defensive player of the week honors.
“Both of our safeties had exceptional games.”
“We thought we’d have some opportunities,” Sash told Dolphin and Ed Podolak during the Hawkeye Radio Network’s post-game show. “The defense played great, the offense played great and we got the win.”
Now, Tyler, about that guy named Kinnick and the record…
“We just go to work every day, play hard and try to get better. It worked today,” he said, obviously humbled by the comparison.
“Both of our safeties had exceptional games,” offered UI Coach Kirk Ferentz, noting that Brett Greenwood, Sash’s partner in the deep middle of Iowa’s lock-down defense, had a pair of picks himself. The 6-foot, 200-pound junior from Bettendorf had two interceptions in each of his first two seasons with the Hawkeyes.
Iowa’s defense was brilliant. It held an Iowa State offense that appeared explosive in its season-opening victory over North Dakota State to just three points and a mere 300 yards of total offense while collecting six take-aways.
“The coaching staff did a great job of preparing us for this game,” said Sash. “They are talented and we knew that we’d have to play smart, but we were well prepared and executed.”
Iowa will look to notch win No. 3 next Saturday when it returns to historic Kinnick Stadium for a 2:30 p.m. Iowa time date with Arizona. The game – Iowa’s annual “Blackout Saturday” event – will be televised to a regional audience by ABC. The rest of the nation will be able to watch on one of the family of ESPN networks.