In the 57th meeting of Iowa and Iowa State, soon-to-be Giants safeties Tyler Sash and David Sims took turns pillaging their opposing quarterbacks and came back with a combined payday of five interceptions.
Sash, the Hawkeye, eventually took the 3-2 advantage with his third and final pick in the fourth quarter while Iowa went on to win 35-3. Meanwhile, Sims, the Cyclone, began the backfield frenzy with a spectacular one-handed grab a minute into the second game of the 2009 season.
With the proximity of the schools and having played the same position, Sash and Sims heard whispers of each other, but that battle for the Cy-Hawk trophy marked their first meeting in person.
"I think we both knew that we both could play a little bit back there," Sash said. "So, yeah, we did know who each other were."
Sims recalled the rendezvous before the game.
"I just knew about him," Sims said. "I guess he knew about me. Before the game, we just like shook each other's hand at midfield during warm-ups. He had a good game. I had a good game."
After Sims' early acrobatics, Sash nabbed his first on the ensuing drive. Then it was Sims' turn again early in the second frame, followed by Sash's final two (his second interception came later that quarter).
"I started it off and then they just started falling from everywhere, from both sides," Sims said. "I noticed because I'm watching out there, and it was one of those days for our quarterback. I was watching, believe that."
Sash couldn't help but notice his counterpart too, if only for a brief moment.
"At the time, you're just going out and playing your game, making sure you're in the right coverages, making sure everybody is on the right page playing safety," Sash said. "But obviously he did start the game off with a nice one-handed pick. So I did notice that. But at the same time, I just went out and played my game."
As fate would have it, the two now sport the same jersey – Big Blue.
However, their paths were different. Sash was drafted this past April while Sims was signed as an undrafted rookie.
"It's strange, it's crazy that we ended up in the same place," said Sims, who entered the preseason opener in the fourth quarter and had had two tackles (one TFL). "We're kind of fighting for the same position, but I think he has the one leg up just because he was drafted and I wasn't. We're out here competing. We're cool off the field, and when we're on the field we're still cool but it's business too because we're competing for the same position. We're both trying to get it because this is what we want to do."
In that game at Carolina, Sash deflected a pass, forced a fumble and was tied for a team-high four tackles. But just like their college games against each other, they're competing with a whole lot more than just one person.
"Everybody is competing, it's not just me and him," Sash said. "We are playing the same position, but at the same time you got to know both positions. One motion can get you from free to strong or strong to free. So it really doesn't matter. We're out here every day. Everybody is competing everyday trying to get better."