ISU's depth problems on defense begin and end in the secondary, where coaches faced problems putting packages together this spring after losing an abundance of seniors from 2003, yet being unable to replace them with anyone. The Cyclones signed an immediate contributor in JUCO transfer Jerry Gair, and may get some help from three true freshmen safeties.
But that couldn't help them this spring. Secondary coach Chris Ash has to feel good about the top end of his depth chart, but didn't have much to choose from beyond his two-deep.
The decision to move Moser from SAM linebacker to strong safety was a great one, as the fourth-year junior had a good spring practice at his old position. If there was one thing Moser proved during his time in the front seven, it was that he wasn't afraid to stick his nose into a play and make the big hit. That will serve him well as a strong safety.
But an up-and-coming redshirt freshman, Berg, also made a case for extended playing time. After signing him out of high school, McCarney reaped all kinds of praise on Berg, but ended up redshirting him. One of the hardest hitters to come through ISU's secondary in recent years, Berg still has to work on some other mental areas of the game before he's ready to step into a starting role.
Paris will finally get an opportunity to start after three years spent as Marc Timmons' understudy. The former Dallas prep wrapped up his spring with six tackles in the intrasquad game. But Paris also knows he'll need to remain on top of his game, because Gair will be looked at as a free safety this fall.
In my opinion, the depth chart at strong safety is pretty well set. Look for Moser to earn the starting job against Northern Iowa. However, Berg has earned his way into playing time as his backup. Both safeties are also expected to play roles on special teams.
Free safety is another story, as coaches are eager to see what Gair brings to the table. The JUCO transfer from California ranked second nationally in interceptions last season, and could be a valuable addition to Ash's secondary. Either way, ISU's depth at free safety should be much improved over the spring.