IOWA CITY, Iowa – I say, just do it.
The Iowa coaches should use Desmond King on offense for a few plays, beginning with Saturday’s game at Purdue, and see what happens.
Use him as a slot receiver and see if he could impact the game like he does on defense as an in-your-face cornerback and on special teams as a dynamic return specialist.
The only real risk is injury because there would be more chances for that occur should King play on offense. But the Detroit native almost seems indestructible.
The sputtering Iowa offense showed some improvement in last Saturday’s 14-7 victory at Minnesota, but the passing attack still desperately needs playmakers.
That has been the case all season, but even more so now that top receiver Matt VandeBerg is out indefinitely with a broken foot.
Iowa is ranked 12th in the Big Ten in passing offense and is coming off a game in which quarterback C.J. Beathard only passed for 142 yards against Minnesota.
Imagine the impact it would have if King lined up at receiver or in the Iowa backfield. Defenses would have to adjust to his presence.
So at the least, he could be a decoy for a few plays.
But why stop there?
King has shown as a return specialist that he has an uncanny ability to make defenders miss in space. He isn’t a blazer from a speed standpoint. But he combines lightning quickness with patience and toughness to shine as a return specialist.
The Iowa offense needs somebody who can turn a 5-yard gain off a hitch route or quick slant into a 30-yard gain, or even more.
And the offense needs it in a hurry with the regular season already half over.
There are times from an execution standpoint when everything seems so hard for the Iowa passing attack. From a lack of protection in the pocket to receivers not getting open to receivers not gaining many yards after making catches, moving through the air has been an ongoing struggle.
So maybe the 5-foot-11, 203-pound King could provide a lift.
“Yeah, I would like to play offense for sure,” King said Tuesday.
What is the harm in giving it a try, except, of course, the risk of injury as previously mentioned?
But we’re talking about somebody who already does arguably the two most dangerous things in football, which is return kicks and punts.
Michigan has benefited from using linebacker/defensive back Jabrill Peppers on both offense and defense this season. Peppers is so talented that Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh wants to utilize him as much as possible.
You could argue that King deserves to be used that way, too. But more as a receiver because it’s far less demanding and because Iowa doesn’t need help at running back where LeShun Daniels and Akrum Wadley form a solid one-two punch.
King prefers playing defense, but he also likes offense. He just likes playing football and making plays.
King could’ve been in the NFL right now, but he chose to return to Iowa for his senior season and to graduate. His time as a Hawkeye is almost over. So try him on offense while you still can.
Now on the other hand, playing King on offense is much easier said than done as Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz pointed out on Tuesday. King already carries a heavy load and you wouldn’t want to disrupt that by given him more responsibility.
But football isn’t rocket science, nor would it be much additional work, just a few plays to distract the defense and to see if King could break something.
Iowa struggles to get players in space, and most of the players struggle to capitalize when they get in space.
“I know he would try,” Ferentz said on Tuesday when told that King would be willing to play on offense. “He’d try and probably be pretty good at it, quite frankly. Maybe we need to think about it, I don’t know. But still, there is a matter of timing and all those things.”
King is a special talent, the only Jim Thorpe Award winner to return to college. He also is arguably the best cover cornerback in the history of the Iowa program.
King showed last season while tying Iowa’s single-season record with eight interceptions that he has good ball skills. Combine that with his quickness and vision and he would seem to be a potential threat on offense.
Defenses are starting to double-team star tight end George Kittle because they aren’t that worried about Iowa’s receivers making an impact.
They would be worried about King, though, from the moment he lined up on offense based on his reputation alone.
I’m usually not in favor of making drastic moves, especially with regard to Iowa football because staying the course has worked so many times before under Ferentz.
But this really wouldn’t be that drastic.
It’s just a suggestion to get your best skill player more involved on a team that needs more skill on offense.