MIAMI — It started to show up sometime after he picked off three passes against Iowa State.
Astute Iowa internetters know exactly where we’re going here. It’s the Tyler Sash graphic, which happens to be graphic. It’s a series of five photos of Sash, rolling out of a tackle after one of those interceptions against Iowa State and flashing the No. 1 sign (see above).
Each copy of the photo is outlined in garish 1970′s neon. ”Tyler Sash” is in gold cursive. In between is where the graphic gets graphic.
It’s Tyler “motherbleeping” Sash. It’s a rallying sentinment, to be sure, but it’s also too blue for this particular blog (lawyers, you know).
“Somebody sent it to me via e-mail,” said the all-Big Ten safety from Oskaloosa. “I didn’t know what it meant, exactly. You can take it two different ways. I didn’t know if I was the next ‘Power Ranger’ or something else.”
Certainly, it was well-intentioned, the next Power Ranger. How could it not be after the season Sash has had.
He finished the regular season with six interceptions, tops in the Big Ten. He holds Iowa’s career record for interception return yards (350). His three picks against Iowa State tied an Iowa record. It’s not just interceptions, either. He finished second on the team with 84 tackles and had 5.5 tackles for loss and forced two fumbles.
“Sash does a good job of catching tipped balls that land right in his hands,” senior linebacker A.J. Edds joked. “I’m kidding, kidding.”
“Guys give him a hard time about having these balls that fall in his hands, but if he’s not in the right place at the right time, those balls aren’t coming to him. People don’t seem to understand that,” Edds said. “If he’s a second late here or there, those balls are going to be on the ground.
“He has a better grasp of what his assignment is this year, how he fits into the puzzle of our defense, especially in the run support. He’s done a good job being there, but not so nosy where they’re beating him over the top.”
Sash admitted run support was something he wanted to improve on from his freshman year, which ended with two picks in the Outback Bowl (he finished with five interceptions last season).
“My freshman year, I didn’t know exactly what it was going to be like,” Sash said. “Just having a year of experience means a lot. Just reading my keys, reading the offensive line, when I read run coming down and just being an extra guy in the box, sometimes.
“Each game is a little bit different, but I’ll definitely be in the box this game.”
Sash will be in the box, the line of scrimmage. He’ll also be in pass coverage, because Georgia Tech, Iowa’s Orange Bowl opponent, will pop the ball over team’s heads when they start sitting on the run, which happens against a team that rushes for 300 yards a game.
Georgia Tech’s offense is a triple-option nightmare for safeties, Sash and free safety Brett Greenwood. They have run and pass responsibilities. If they’re out of position, Tech has the weapons to produce game-changing plays.
”Sometimes, he (Sash) is going to be the guy who’s responsible for taking the pitch,” defensive coordinator Norm Parker said. “Sometimes, he’s going to be the guy responsible for taking the dump pass. . . . The secondary has got to defeat chop blocks, they’ve got to get off those low blocks.
“When it’s pass, they’ve got to play pass. When it’s run, they’ve got to play run and don’t get fooled. In the heat of the game, that’s not that easy.”
Tyler “motherbleeping” Sash can have two meanings, Power Ranger and something else.
For the record, Sash’s mom, Barney, would not approve.
“I don’t think she’s seen it, but I know she wouldn’t like it,” said Sash, who, yes, does have a copy of it on his computer. ”
Wouldn’t it look good on a T-shirt for mom, though?
“That’s for the 18 to 22 year olds,” he laughed. “You wouldn’t see me or anyone in my family walking around wearing that, I know that.”
Sash’s defensive buddies are sort of jealous.
Edds wants one.
“I guess I wasn’t cool enough to get one,” Edds said. “We were sitting around the house one day and someone found it on the computer. What the hell is this?”
Linebacker Pat Angerer wants nothing to do with the multi-color design. He has a set of colors in mind, though, internetters, if you’re in the mood to come up with an Angerer logo.
“It was rainbow colors, right?” Angerer asked of Sash’s logo. “Mine would have to be red, white and blue.”
OK, that’s your assignment.