TAMPA, Fla. — Two of Iowa’s top three cornerbacks are out with injuries for the Outback Bowl on Monday, but defensive coordinator Phil Parker has confidence in his defensive replacements.
Senior All-American cornerback Desmond King will man one side of the field and make his 51st start, breaking the school record. Sophomore Josh Jackson will open his first game on the opposite side. Redshirt freshman Michael Ojemudia is in reserve.
And that’s about it.
Senior Greg Mabin suffered a broken foot in practice the week before the Michigan game and won’t play against Florida. Mabin has 35 career starts, 16 career break-ups and three interceptions.
True freshman Manny Rugamba played as the team’s third cornerback in nickel situations and started the final three games. He fractured a bone in his shoulder in the finale against Nebraska and is out for the game. Rugamba was named the Big Ten’s co-freshman of the week after intercepting a pass and breaking up four others in the upset of Michigan.
Still, defensive coordinator Phil Parker appears confident with the players that remain at that position. Jackson was used as the fourth cornerback in the team’s Raider package, so he has on-field experience. It also gives Jackson the inside track at a starting role next season with both King and Mabin graduating.
“I think he has a good opportunity,” Parker said Friday. “Obviously it’s a long ways away. But he’s been doing a good job in our sub-packages, and I thought he played well when he went in there at the end with Nebraska.”
Ojemudia sits as the team’s third cornerback with no other true cornerback available to play. True freshman Amani Hooker, a backup safety, has practiced at cornerback during bowl prep and will fill in there if necessary.
Jackson has played in 24 games the last two years with 15 tackles and six pass break-ups. Ojemudia had five tackles and one pass break-up while playing in all 12 games this season.
“(Ojemudia is) in the two-deep, and if he gets on the field in sub-packages, he’s got to go out and play,” Parker said. “I feel very confident in him going out to play.
“I think right now we’re in good shape with our sub-packages. I’m not concerned about that right now.”