The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

PCP | Should Iowa cornerback Cooper DeJean play on offense?

The Daily Iowan Sports Reporters Brad Schultz and Jake Olson debate if the Iowa football coaching staff should risk injury and add an asset on offense.
Iowa+defensive+back+Cooper+DeJean+runs+toward+the+end+zone+for+a+touchdown+after+a+punt+return+during+a+football+game+between+Iowa+and+Michigan+State+at+Kinnick+Stadium+in+Iowa+City+on+Saturday%2C+Sept.+30%2C+2023.+The+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+Spartans%2C+26-16.+DeJean%E2%80%99s+touchdown+on+the+punt+return+was+70+yards.
Grace Smith
Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean runs toward the end zone for a touchdown after a punt return during a football game between Iowa and Michigan State at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Spartans, 26-16. DeJean’s touchdown on the punt return was 70 yards.

No

Seven weeks into the 2023 college football season, the Iowa football team ranks last in the country in total offense according to the NCAA.

The Hawkeye offense is averaging 21.4 points per game — three points under Brian Ferentz’s 25 points per game minimum.

Many fans suggest putting in third-year cornerback Cooper DeJean on offense to give the Hawkeyes more weapons and opportunities to score.

DeJean played football, basketball, and ran track in high school.

DeJean was the starting quarterback for the OABCIG (Odebolt-Arthur-Battle Creek-Ida Grove) Falcons.

In his senior season, DeJean threw for 3,447 yards and 35 touchdowns while rushing for 1,235 yards and 24 touchdowns.

While I have no doubt he would make an immediate impact on the Hawkeye offense, he is just too valuable on defense and special teams.

This season, DeJean has 33 total tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and two interceptions — one of them being returned for a touchdown.

DeJean also has 215 punt return yards — 70 of those yards coming from his punt return for a touchdown against Michigan State on Sept. 30.

We have already seen what happens on defense when DeJean doesn’t play.

The last game of the regular season last year was a home matchup against rival Nebraska. All the Hawkeyes had to do was win the game, and they would punch their ticket to the Big Ten Championship.

After the first series of the game, DeJean left the field with an apparent head injury.

Nebraska wide receiver Trey Palmer took advantage of the new mismatch and unleashed on the Hawkeyes — going for 165 yards and two touchdowns on nine receptions.

If DeJean plays on offense, I fear the future NFL Draft pick will risk an unwanted injury.

Yes

Ah yes, it’s the point in the season where Iowa fans throw out the idea of Cooper DeJean playing a few snaps on offense.

Considering the Hawkeyes have had one of the worst offenses in the country the last three seasons, it doesn’t hurt to throw a monkey wrench into an opponent’s defensive game plan by using one of your best playmakers a few times each game.

Despite their 6-1 record, Iowa desperately needs a spark on offense to earn a trip to the Big Ten Championship Game. During Saturday’s game against Wisconsin, the Hawkeyes had six drives with only three total yards.

After all, DeJean has already proven that he is capable of providing a spark on offense, as his 70-yard punt return touchdown against Michigan State won the game for Iowa at a time when the offense was stuck in the mud.

There aren’t too many players on the football field that have the athletic ability that DeJean has. Offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz has unlimited opportunities to implement DeJean in his putrid offense.

Ferentz could run DeJean out of the wildcat formation, allowing him to get to the outside and show off his exceptional speed. Or he could have the 6-foot-1 defensive back line up in the slot and use him on end-arounds and jet sweeps.

Not only did DeJean play defensive back in high school, but he also played quarterback, setting numerous school records in the process. He threw for 35 touchdowns during his senior season at OABCIG.

Iowa could also line DeJean up in the slot as a wide receiver and attempt the classic “double pass” trick play. DeJean is like a magnet, and every defender will chase him, setting up a perfect play.

Obviously, there are reasons that DeJean should play strictly on defense, but the opportunity is too great for Iowa not to give it a try.

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About the Contributors
Brad Schultz, Sports Reporter
(he/him/his)
Brad Schultz is a sophomore at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication with a minor in Sports Studies. This is first year working as a sports reporter and he has a deep passion and love for sports. Outside of the Daily Iowan, Brad is a contributor for Saturday Blitz, a college football site, with his content primarily covering Iowa and the Big Ten.
Jake Olson, Sports Reporter
(he/him/his)
Email: [email protected] Jake Olson is a Sports Reporter for The Daily Iowan. In his three years with the paper, he has covered everything from rowing to basketball. He is studying journalism and mass communication with a minor in sports and rec management.
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
she/her/hers
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.