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Iowa defense shines

Hawk Talk
Hawkeye linebacker Josey Jewell crashes into Minnesota quarterback Demry Croft as Anthony Nelson closes in during Iowa’s 17-10 win over the Gophers Oct. 28 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. (photo by Terry Intveld)

For the second week in a row, the Hawkeye defense held its opponent to 10 points in regulation.
Last Saturday against Minnesota, the offense came up with 17 points and the pig stays in Iowa City... Iowa defeats Minnesota, 17-10.
That’s the sixth time this season Iowa has held an opponent to under 20 points.
Phil Parker, Iowa’s defensive coordinator, said he thought the Hawkeyes’ front seven was as good as he has seen it since he’s been here.
The defensive backfield was a different story.
Iowa not only had to replace Desmond King, all-world and one of the best cornerbacks ever to play for Iowa, but two-year starter Greg Malbin also at corner.
Then safety Brandon Snyder tears his ACL in the spring, plays a great game against Illinois and hasn’t played since.
Josh Jackson, Manny Rugamba, Jake Gervase and Amani Hooker are all basically first-year starters.
I’ll talk more about them later.
The offense looked like it was going to put up 35 points after taking the opening drive 80 yards in five plays to score.
That is the first time all season that Iowa scored on its opening drive.
Not so fast, my friend.
That was followed by five straight three-and-outs and Iowa only led 7-0 at half.
The Hawks also took the opening drive in the second half for a score but couldn’t sustain anything else the whole game.
“The opening drives of both halves were excellent but we made too many mistakes to be a consistent operation,” said head coach Kirk Ferentz.
This week I’ll start with the defense.

Iowa defense

Like I said before, the Hawkeye defense has kept them in every game this season.
Iowa is giving up only 17.4 points per game so far while averaging 25 points on offense.
Third down conversion for the opposition is 36-118 (31 percent).
Iowa’s core group, the linebackers, combined for 22 tackles, two tackles for a loss and two pass breakups against the Gophers.
Josey Jewell, Ben Niemann and Bo Bower have been playing at peak performance all season.
Josh Jackson had a career-high four pass breakups as he came into the game leading the Big Ten with 11.
“Josh is doing a great job back there and is competing hard,” said coach Ferentz.
Josh tipped a pass the was caught by Jake Gervase in the Iowa end zone that stopped a first quarter drive.
Josh also ran down Tyler Johnson, who caught a 63-yard pass and run in the second half and helped hold the Gophers to a field goal.
The Hawks had seven pass breakups for the day.
The defense held Minnesota to 281 total yards, its lowest of the season.
Four sacks with Parker Hesse, Bo Bower, Cedrick Lattimore, and Anthony Nelson setting the tone for the game as Demry Croft, the Gopher quarterback, was only 9-29 passing.
“Anthony has a knack for rushing and he’s had that since the day he walked on campus,” said Ferentz. “He has matured more physically now. I think the fact that we can rotate guys, like Sam Brincks and A.J. Epenesa, who are doing a good job.”
The defense gave up only 3.3 yards per rush and didn’t give up a run over 17 yards.
“All in all it was a good effort by the defense,” said captain Kirk. “They did a lot of good things out there and gave us a chance to win the game.”

Iowa offense

I was kind of hoping that James Butler could red shirt this year.
That would be fun to see what he could do as the featured back next season.
The coaches decided they needed him this year, although I have confidence with Ivory Kelly-Martin and Toren Young.
James had 28 yards on 11 carries and caught a 19-yard pass at the end of the first half that would have given the Hawks a first down at the Minnesota 21.
The ball came loose as James hit the ground, was ruled a fumble and another scoring opportunity was lost.
Akrum Wadley was held to 70 yards on 16 carries (4.4 per carry) but did score the opening touchdown on a nice 12-yard run with a good juke at the line of scrimmage.
Nate Stanley had a decent day, going 15-27 for 190 yards with a touchdown pass and an interception.
The interception wasn’t his fault as he threw a deep ball to Ihmir Smith-Marsette which bounced off his helmet and was picked off.
Nate threw a beautiful touch pass to Noah Fant for a 45-yard touchdown to start the third quarter. Noah leads Iowa with five touchdown catches.
Nick Easley led the Hawks with five receptions against the Gophers.
Nick has caught 36 passes for the season averaging 10.4 per catch.
Matt VandeBerg had one catch which extended his streak of 27 games in a row with a reception.

special teams

The punting game came back to haunt the Hawks Saturday.
If the punters didn’t get 10- to 15-yard rolls, the 37.7 average on nine punts would have been worse.
Miguel Recinos made his seventh field goal. He is 7-9 for the season.
Matt VandeBerg was back at punt returns and Ivory Kelly-Martin returned three kickoffs for a 20.7 average.

The big, bad Ohio State Buckeyes will be coming to Kinnick Stadium this Saturday.
I still can’t believe they were down 21-3 against Penn State only to come back to win, 39-38.
Hopefully with that emotional win, they will be somewhat flat against the Hawks.
Even if they are, Ohio State is loaded and favored by 16.
Can Kinnick magic come through?