AMES — Tell Brian Peavy you’re better than him and he’ll probably smile.
“All right,” he’ll think. “Believe that if you’d like.”
Iowa State’s most productive cornerback last season has been outpacing expectations and dumbfounding doubters for a long time.
What’s a mostly overlooked 5-9 corner from Houston to do? Keep on pushing. That grin can be deceiving.
“Tremendous worker,” new Cyclone secondary coach D.K. McDonald said. “He’s a bulldog out there. One of the most competitive guys I’ve been around.”
That’s saying something.
Peavy — who held one other power-five offer out of high school — earned honorable mention all-Big 12 honors last season and ranked second in the league among freshman in tackles with a team-high 82.
He broke up 10 passes. He picked two and forced a fumble. Next step, same as ever: Get better.
“I always live by the biggest room in the house is room for improvement, so 2 percent getting better is always in my head as far as going out and attacking the field,” Peavy said. “It’s my approach to the game.”
First-year ISU head coach Matt Campbell noticed that shortly after taking the job and if anything, Peavy’s commitment to steady, but constant improvement has grown.
“Brian, he loves football,” Campbell said. “He’s really competitive. You saw that — and It’s funny, I couldn’t sleep one of these nights and the Texas game (a 24-0 ISU win) is on replay. You turn that game on and there’s ‘Peav’ making some huge plays in one-on-one coverage in that game when he had to make plays. I think that’s the one thing that I love about Brian. He gets better every day because football is really important and this is really important to him.”
“This” is the process. Some call it a grind. Peavy welcomes it warmly each morning.
“I just work hard,” he said. “I feel like it’s just outworking people.”
As for that Texas game that Campbell referenced, Peavy smiles when it’s brought up. Of course it’s a good memory from an otherwise brutal 3-9 season, but it means more than that in terms of his personal development.
“I felt at home out there,” Peavy said. “Felt great. Felt comfortable.”
He’s building off of it. Incremental gains can produce massive results. Consider that Peavy’s — and the team’s — credo.
“Just trying to get two percent better every day,” he said.
SCRIMMAGE PART II
Campbell said some elements of a scrimmage played out last Saturday, but the team tackled seven to eight periods of regular practice on top of it.
“It was pretty windy, which was a pretty good situation for us because I think, number one, it was really hard to hear out there and it forced our guys to really identify: do they know what they’re doing? Alignment, assignment and execution? And then number two, it forced us to really run the football and play good run defense and I thought that was good to see," Campbell said. "I thought both sides, there were some real positives throughout the scrimmage.”
Another scrimmage is planned for this Saturday. Campbell said he was “pretty jacked up” for the last one, even though it merely approximated the game-time coaching experience.
“Unbelievable feeling,” he said. “Really excited to be out there.”
SORTING OUT LB
ISU linebackers coach Tyson Veidt said coaches are trying to identify likely front-line players at this point and working on developing depth accordingly.
“For us, we need to find out who are top guys are as they’re learning things and as we need them too make plays,” said Veidt, who correctly noted that juniors and seniors in the program are learning their third defense in as many years. “But also we need to build depth within the group and that goes back to guys that cross over positions: MIKE playing SAM or SAM playing WILL and those different things, so that will help us down the road for sure.”