TJ Tampa, CB
Another impressive defensive back for the Cyclones this season is the big 6-foot-2 and 200-pound senior cornerback TJ Tampa. The third-year starter for Iowa State at cornerback is in the midst of his best season in Ames. Tampa is the highest-graded cornerback in the Big 12 on defense and in coverage this season.
Like Cooper, Tampa is another highly disruptive cornerback with great instincts and timing to jump routes in pass coverage. Tampa has the length to be physical with bigger wide receivers in man coverage. But he’s also got the quick hips and above-average speed to hang with some of the better wideouts in the Big 12 and the ball skills to make plays when the football is in the air.
The thing is that most teams don’t throw Tampa’s way, so he doesn’t get the chance to make many plays on the football.
Iowa State trusts Tampa in one-on-one coverage matchups. He’s physical enough to keep opposing wide receivers in check in the short and intermediate passing game.
It’s also difficult to attack Tampa over the top. He does a nice job of sticking with opposing receivers in man coverage this season, as he hasn’t allowed a single reception of 25 yards or more.
Since Tampa is so good in coverage and boasts legit NFL traits, opposing teams usually attack the opposite side of him in the passing game. He ranks in the top five among cornerbacks in the Big 12 this season in snaps per reception in coverage (16.7) and seventh in snaps per target (7.7).
This is the second straight week the Longhorns have faced a highly-graded and experienced cornerback in the Big 12. Last week, Texas faced a reigning All-Big 12 corner in TCU’s Josh Newton. But junior wide receiver Xavier Worthy ate Newton’s lunch in coverage before TCU adjusted later in the game to give him some help with a shadowing safety.
Newton allowed over 100 receiving yards in coverage in a single game for the first time in his two years as a starter at TCU.
It will be interesting to see how Worthy matches up against another standout corner in the Big 12 this weekend when Texas faces Iowa State.