Brown: Iowa secondary must tie up Tyler Boyd

Rick Brown

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Greg Mabin came to Iowa as a wide receiver. Now he’s trying to keep them from catching passes.

The Hawkeyes' Greg Mabin (No. 13) will have hands full Saturday against Pitt's Tyler Boyd.

Mabin is Iowa’s starting left cornerback. Coach Kirk Ferentz approached Mabin about a position change before spring practice in 2013.

“Personally, I wasn’t so sure of the change,” Mabin said. “But he saw something I didn’t see. I trusted him. I trusted coach (Phil) Parker to teach me the proper techniques I would need to succeed. It’s worked out.”

Parker is Iowa’s defensive coordinator, and Mabin is in his second season as a starter. Mabin and his secondary mates will face one of the best receivers in the country Saturday when Pittsburgh comes to Kinnick Stadium for a 7 p.m. game.

His name is Tyler Boyd, and he’s rewriting Larry Fitzgerald’s receiving records at Pittsburgh.

“He’s a complete receiver,” Mabin said. “Big, strong, fast, runs good routes, blocks. It’s going to take all of us, not a one-man effort, to stop him and the rest of the guys on the offense.”

Boyd is the only player in ACC history to have 1,000 receiving yards in his freshman and sophomore seasons. He also erased Fitzgerald’s freshman receiving records.

Boyd was suspended from Pittsburgh’s season opener against Youngstown State after being charged with DUI in June. He had 11 catches for 95 yards against Akron last week.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder from Clariton, Pa., has 11 career 100-yard games.  He had 10 catches for 153 yards in a 24-20 loss to Iowa at Heinz Field last season. Eight of his 10 catches in that game were for at least 10 yards.

Quarterback Chad Voytik threw to Boyd 16 times against Iowa. Because of an illness, that was the only game Mabin didn’t start last season. But he played a lot of minutes. Pittsburgh tried to rally late in the game. But with the ball at the Pittsburgh 29, Voytik threw to Boyd on both third and fourth down. And Mabin successfully defended both passes.

It will take defense like that on Saturday for Iowa to improve to 3-0 for the first time since 2009.

Hawkeye columnist Rick Brown is a 10-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Follow him on Twitter: @ByRickBrown.