You kind of figured that the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week would come from the defensive slugfest that Iowa and Wisconsin waged on Saturday, right? Michigan and Northwestern both posted shutouts, but they were more the product of team efforts than standout individual performances. Not that Wisconsin and Iowa didn't also have strong team-wide defensive efforts, too, but there were definitely some especially good individual performers. On the Iowa side, Desmond King was the man -- 9 tackles (5 solo), two pass break-ups, and of course -- two very big interceptions. The first set up Iowa's (and the game's) lone touchdown and the second killed Wisconsin's opening drive of the second half. Unsurprisingly, that sort of performance was good enough to earn King Defensive Player of the Week honors.
That said, King wasn't the only player from that game honored as Defensive Player of the Week by the Big Ten -- Wisconsin's Joe Schobert also earned DPOW plaudits.
Honestly, that's an extremely fair result. It was a game dominated by both defenses and just as King was the standout performer for Iowa, Schobert was the standout performer for the Badgers. His stat line is, frankly, ridiculous: 8 tackles (5 solo), 3.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 5 QB hurries, 2 forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery for good measure. He was an unstoppable force that seemed to spend the entire second half in Iowa's backfield, making life miserable for C.J. Beathard. He fully deserves any and all Defensive Player of the Week honors after that performance -- the Badgers came up short in the game, but it sure as hell wasn't because of Schobert's efforts.
Let's take another peek at King's excellent afternoon:
It's also worth taking a moment to appreciate just how good the start of King's season has been this year.
FBS players with 25+ total tackles & 5+ INT in 2015: Desmond King That's it. That's the list.— Matt Benson (@mbenson6) October 5, 2015
Desmond King, 1st Hawkeye: w/ 5 INT in single-season since Brett Greenwood ('10). w/ two multi-INT games since Tyler Sash ('09). #Hawkeyes— Hawkeye Football (@HawkeyeFootball) October 5, 2015
Yeah -- King has been absolutely unreal so far.
King's interceptions have been very timely, too -- he hasn't been padding his stats with relatively meaningless picks in blowouts. His first interception of the year iced the win over Iowa State. His second and third interceptions of the year came against Pitt and were vital to Iowa's win, given how tight that game was -- his interception in the end zone looms especially large in that regard. And his interceptions last week against Wisconsin were crucial as well -- as noted, his first interception set up Iowa's only touchdown and the second interception provided a big stop (in a game full of big defensive stops, but hey -- in a game that close, they all matter).
Five interceptions is already pretty heady territory for an Iowa defender. Jovon Johnson, the most prolific interceptor of the Kirk Ferentz Era, had his best year in 2003, when he snared six interceptions. Tyler Sash also had six picks in 2009. Brett Greenwood had five in 2010.
The Iowa single-season record for interceptions is 8, held by Lou King (1981) and Nile Kinnick (1939). Three Hawkeyes -- Kerry Burt (1987), Jay Norvell (1985), and Steve Wilson (1967) posted 7-interception seasons. Could King tie or break the all-time record? He should have several games left to try -- Iowa has seven regular season games to go, as well as (likely) a bowl game. (And maybe a Big Ten Championship Game....?) King's ability to tie or break the record is tied to opportunities -- if opposing quarterbacks just decide to stop throwing the ball in his direction, he'll have a tough time getting close to the record.
Enjoy King this season. He's playing at an extremely high level -- as high as we've seen from an Iowa defensive back in several seasons. If he keeps up this level of performance, there's a very good chance that he's playing on Sundays next fall.
King became Iowa's third player this year to receive Player of the Week honors. C.J. Beathard grabbed Offensive Player of the Week kudos after leading a comeback win for the Hawkeyes over Iowa State in Week 2. A week later, Marshall Koehn was tabbed Special Teams Player of the Week after hitting that kick. And now King has added Defensive Player of the Week honors to Iowa's collection this season. The only Player of the Week award Iowa has yet to earn this year is Freshman Player of the Week. Maybe Jerminic Smith can put together a blow-away performance over the next few weeks -- we definitely wouldn't say no to that.
But congrats to King -- it's a joy to watch you work this year, sir. Keep it coming.