IOWA CITY, IOWA – Greg Mabin will be just fine.
The Florida native has played too much football at a high level to let one bad day at the office ruin what has been an impressive run as a cornerback for the Iowa Hawkeyes.
It is no secret that Mabin struggled during last Saturday’s 45-21 victory over Miami of Ohio in the season opener at Kinnick Stadium.
He surrendered some big plays, but he also faced the fire after the game, and again on Tuesday, and handled it like a mature adult should.
And that’s what Mabin is as a 22-year old fifth-year senior.
He can handle a little adversity and the criticism and scrutiny that goes with it because Mabin knows as a three-year starter that the present is all that matters.
“I think (my experience) helps me a lot, Mabin said. “My first year starting, I used to take it more to heart than anything. I used to kind of just cringe about making the same mistakes over and over again.
“But now I just have the mentality if I make a mistake, screw it. I’m still on the field. I have to perform for my team. I can’t let those guys down.”
Cornerbacks often play on an island and are constantly challenged by offenses looking for big-yardage plays.
It helps to have a short memory as a cornerback because a chance for redemption is often just a play or two away.
“You’ve got to take the mistakes that you did in full heart and realize what you did,” Mabin said. “But at the same time, you’ve to get over it because it’s in the past. You remember what happened, but you can’t let it affect you down the road.”
Getting over it is easier said than done.
But you have to like Mabin’s chances because of his experience. You don’t start for three seasons at Iowa by accident.
He also is finally healthy after missing all of spring practice and part of preseason practice with an injury.
“Greg has played a lot of really good football for us,” said Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz. “He’s missed a lot of time. He missed the spring and he missed sometime early in camp, so he’s playing catch-up a little bit. He’s a quality player. He’ll be, hopefully, ready to go this Saturday. But he’s going to have a good senior year, I’m really confident in that.”
Under normal circumstances, Mabin would be Iowa’s marquee cornerback with 27 starts under his belt.
But there is nothing normal about playing alongside side a Jim Thorpe Award winner, as is the case with Mabin and fellow senior Desmond King, who is the first Jim Thorpe Award winner to return to college.
King’s success, coupled with Mabin’s struggles in the season opener has fueled the belief that King will be assigned exclusively to defend against Iowa State star receiver Allen Lazard on Saturday.
That would go against Iowa’s defensive philosophy in which formations usually take priority over individual matchups.
But if it happens, Mabin will accept his role and will compete.
“It really all just depends. We’re trying a couple different things in practice, guys here and guys there,” Mabin said of Iowa’s defensive schemes. "But if he lines up on me, I’ve got to take him. I’ve got to take whoever lines up on me.”
Ferentz is correct in saying that Mabin has played a lot of good football for Iowa.
We’ve seen recently how fluid the depth chart can be. A starter today isn’t always a starter tomorrow.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Mabin isn’t a star like King, but Mabin is no pushover, either.
Mabin’s size separates him from a lot of cornerbacks, including the 5-11, 203-pound King. That size could help Mabin if he has to defend the 6-5, 223-pound Lazard on Saturday.
“You’ve got to embrace the opportunity to go out there and compete,” Mabin said. “I’m going to have my fair share of opportunities. I had my fair share last week. I’ll probably have even more opportunities this week. It just comes down to executing.”
Mabin will leave Iowa as a three-year starter at a different position for which he was recruited. He came to Iowa as a receiver, but switched to cornerback in the spring of 2013.
It hasn’t always been a smooth transition. But Mabin has stayed the course and been a solid contributor.
That’s why you give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that last Saturday’s performance was only a temporary setback.
Mabin has earned that trust with his full body of work.