Cornerbacks gaining experience in year two of new scheme

Iowa State defensive back Brian Peavy attempts to tackle West Virginia wide receiver Marcus Simms as he falls into the end zone for a touchdown on Nov. 26 at Jack Trice Stadium. West Virginia led Iowa State 21-16 at halftime.

Austin Anderson

Coach Matt Campbell and his staff brought in a completely new defensive system when they arrived in Ames last season. New plays and adjustments came along with the new system.

Plays like one called “Apple.”

“When we say ‘Apple,’ they understand what that means now,” cornerbacks coach D.K. McDonald said. “Last year when you said it they looked at you like you had three eyes.”

Adjusting to the new scheme last season took time, and a lot of responsibility fell on underclassmen like Brian Peavy and D’Andre Payne. Those two are now redshirt juniors. The year of experience has allowed them to go from learning the system to helping to teach it to the next crop of young guys.

Guys like Richard Bowens III, who enrolled early at the beginning of this semester.

“We don’t really bring guys in here to redshirt them,” McDonald said. “We really hope he can come in and contribute and help us out on the field right away.”

Bowens III is still only 17 and won’t turn 18 until after the second semester concludes.

“He’s got really good technique for a kid coming out of high school,” McDonald said. “[He] still should be getting ready for his prom. He’s going to be a good player for us. I’m really excited about his future.”

Payne said he has taken Bowens III under his wing by showing him how to eat right and watch film.

“He’s a guy that’s willing to learn,” Payne said.

At 6-foot-1, Bowens III brings size the rest of the corners lack.

Peavy stands at 5-foot-9. Payne at 5-foot-10.

In practice, the Iowa State corners are matched up against the impressive size of Iowa State wide receivers like Allen Lazard, Hakeem Butler and Matt Eaton, who all stand 6-foot-4 and above.

Peavy and Payne have a challenge of stopping the improved offense, but their competitiveness against each other has continued to push them.

“We’re trying to make each other better,” Payne said. “Just to be the best corners in the conference.”

The defensive backfield is young but isn’t absent from veterans.

McDonald called redshirt senior Kamari Cotton-Moya a “playmaker.” He’s recovering from surgery on Dec. 1.

Payne has spent a lot of time on the move during his college career. He started at Tennessee before going to Maryland and then community college at Arizona Western. Now in a less dramatic change, he’s on the move again.

Payne spent some time last season at the “star” position, which is essentially the cornerback who covers the slot position. Now he has been moved outside officially to corner.

“I’m more comfortable at corner because I don’t have as many responsibilities that I do at the star position,” Payne said.

Peavy has been an honorable mention All-Big 12 the last two seasons. He said he knows the players who were named to the first and second teams above him.

“Not just being an honorable mention,” Peavy said of his goals. “Becoming that first team All-Big 12 player, be that All-American player.”