Hawkeyes LB recruit Dillon Doyle talks his varied role vs. Prairie's funky offense.
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Anyone familiar with eastern Iowa high school football knows it's a pain to prepare for Cedar Rapids Prairie's dizzying offense.
Prairie runs single-wing schemes with unbalanced lines, constantly shifting backfields and plenty of athletes who might be hiding the ball in their arms on any given play.
To beat it, you need players with discipline. You need sure tacklers. You need ball hounds. Iowa City West senior linebacker and Hawkeye recruit Dillon Doyle is all three.
He lined up just about everywhere, it felt like, during West's 48-28 win over Prairie Friday night. He played outside linebacker and what essentially amounted to defensive end. His assignment even took him outside to a pseudo cornerback position for several plays.
And that wasn't a mistake, by the way. Doyle prepared all week for his varying defensive roles.
"You put your dogs where you need to be, and he’s a dog," West head coach Garrett Hartwig said after the win. "That’s about all I can say. (Doyle's) a stud."
In fairness, Doyle didn't light up the stat sheet. While head coach Mark Bliss said this wasn't intentional, many of Prairie's running plays flowed the opposite direction of Doyle. Or Prairie tried to pound it up the middle, where Doyle wasn't.
True to character, Doyle was quick to point out he had room to improve after the game. From the perspective of someone writing to make deadline up in the press box, Doyle only made a couple noticeable missteps. Twice it looked like he anticipated runs on pass plays. He got burned once and nearly got burned the second time.
But that was it. His positive impact overshadowed any errors.
Here are five plays HawkCentral noticed, in particular, in which Doyle stood out.
Hawkeyes LB recruit Dillon Doyle lines up as pseudo CB, breaks up pass.
Doyle's assignment pulled him outside for the first of many occasions early in the first quarter. He lined up opposite the inner-most of Prairie's four-player bunch for what turned out to be a screen pass. Doyle blasted through the lineman supposed to block for the play and broke up the pass. He nearly picked if off, too.
Nose for the ball
Hawkeyes LB recruit Dillon Doyle recovers goal-line fumble.
We've discussed if before: There's no coincidence when a player has "a nose for the ball." It's not luck. That player understands football and plays with heightened awareness, plain and simple. Doyle demonstrated that awareness in the second quarter. Prairie fumbled the ball at West's 2-yard-line. Doyle had just thrown down his blocker when the ball popped out. He was the only one who noticed the fumble and he immediately jumped on the ball for a momentum-shifting turnover.
Disrupting the run
Hawkeyes LB recruit Dillon Doyle blasts through block to disrupt play.
Doyle lined up on the left shoulder of his defensive end (practically playing defensive end himself). Prairie ran a jet sweep toward Doyle's side of the field. He easily pushed through his blocker — and was nearly held by another — and disrupted the play in the backfield. While Doyle couldn't ground Prairie's runner, he would've had the edge had Doyle not slowed him down.
Shedding the blocker
Hawkeyes LB recruit Dillon Doyle sheds blocker, helps stuff rush attempt.
Here's another example of a run-stop. This time, Doyle lined up close to his normal outside linebacker position, except he was on the line of scrimmage. Prairie called a designed quarterback run. Doyle tossed his blocker (a lineman) to his right and helped stuff Prairie's quarterback just beyond the line of scrimmage. It was quite the hit. You can hear someone in the press box yell "Oh!" in the video.
Hawkeyes LB recruit Dillon Doyle deflects a pass that leads to INT.
This play came late in the third quarter and helped ice the game. It was one of the few times Doyle lined up in his normal outside linebacker slot. Prairie called a straight-up pass play — no play action. Doyle followed the quarterback's eyes and positioned himself right where the quarterback threw it. He tipped the pass high in the air, and his teammate, Traevis Buchanan (who has an Iowa game-day visit slated for Oct. 7), made a diving interception.
Matthew Bain covers preps, recruiting and the Hawkeyes for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, The Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewBain_.