Cornerbacks are a different breed. If they're good, they're usually cocky, and at the very least ultra confident. Maybe it comes from being picked on for the entire audience to see.
Iowa's Adam Shada must have felt he was singled out on Saturday. He made his first Big Ten start in place of injured first-teamer Antwan Allen against Indiana at sold out Kinnick Stadium. You didn't need the game plan to figure out the Hoosiers would attempt to use the sophomore for target practice.
"I'm sure they were looking my way a little bit," Shada said with a grin. "That's a fun challenge. You don't really go out there hoping that they throw away from you. You can't really make a play if they don't throw at your guy. So, it was fun. And we came out with the win."
Iowa held off a pesky Indiana team, 38-21, in large part because Shada delivered a couple of big plays when his team needed them and 13 tackles overall. Late in the third quarter with the visitors closing in, the Omaha native intercepted a pass in Iowa's end zone before breaking up a key third down attempt on the following series.
Both plays were intended for super Indiana freshmen receiver James Hardy. The 6-7 wideout caught 12 passes for 203 yards and a score on Saturday. Shada said he wanted the ball thrown his way, which surprised some of the media members in the post game.
"I'm just saying that you don't go out there saying, "Please don't throw on me,"" he said. "If they're going to come at me, I understand that. It's about going out and making a play. It's a fun challenge. That's why we play football, you know? If you're not a competitive guy, you probably shouldn't be out here."
Indiana had scored a touchdown with 5:11 to play in the third quarter, cutting the home team lead to 24-14. On the ensuing kickoff, Iowa returner Damien Sims fumbled, giving the ball to the visitors at the Hawkeye 23.
On the first play, Indiana quarterback Blake Powers took it right at Shada, lofting a pass to Hardy in the right corner of the end zone. The Hawkeye corner stepped in front the intended receiver and took the ball away.
Shada, who owns a keen sense of humor, laughed when asked what he saw on the play.
"I saw a lot of sun," he said.
Then, Shada answered seriously.
"I saw the ball coming in, and I just tried to wall him off," he said. "Fortunately, I was able to come down with it."
Warding him off basically meant acting like a rebounder in basketball boxing out an opponent.
"That's what it felt like for me because I didn't really go up for the ball," Shada said. "He under threw it a bit. I just saw the ball and caught it.
"It was a big play. They had momentum going their way a little bit. They wanted to put a cherry on top and get that momentum even more. So, they threw it up for a big play. Fortunately, we were able to come down with it and get the ball back for our offense"
Unfortunately, the Hawkeye offense continued to sputter and gave the ball up after three plays. On its possession, Indiana faced a 3 and 6 from its own 22. Powers looked down the left sideline for Hardy, who appeared open, but Shada closed in and knocked the ball away.
"They just threw a dump pass hoping to get some yards and get the first down," Shada said.
Indiana closed its deficit to 24-21 on its next series before the Hawkeyes responded and pulled away. Things might have been different had Shada not slowed up the Hoosiers on consecutive possessions.
"It's easy for him to get down on himself because he hasn't been playing as much as I have," senior cornerback Jovon Johnson said. "At the same time, he's keeping his head in the game, sticking with it. He's a young guy, but at the same time, he plays like a veteran.
"They got the fumble recovery and the first thought in my mind and I'm sure in Adam's was that they're going to go big. He played it well, and he made a great play on the ball."
Shada certainly handles the spotlight very well. He stuck his nose in wherever he could on Saturday, including in the interview room, where he faced the media like a veteran.
Asked if he got to know Hardy being as they spent so much time together on Saturday, Shada quipped: "I suppose so. That's really not what we're looking for on defense, though. That's more of a Rocky type of a thing."
Asked if he learned anything about Hardy's tendencies as the game went on, Shada offered this: "I learned that they like to throw to him a lot. That's the only thing I really picked up on about him."
Though Shada held up to Saturday's challenges, he looked exhausted after the game, which made sense. The Hoosiers ran 101 total offensive plays, including 57 pass plays.
"It feels like it now," Shada said when asked if it felt like Indiana ran that many plays. "But when you're out there, you're really not worried about it. You expect to be tired. The blood was flowing, and I was loose. Right now, I'm a little sore. That was a lot of plays. It will be long film review (Sunday)."
Chances are good that he and the coaches are going to like a lot of what they see.