The Hawkeyes likely saw the latter this week after Minnesota became the third team in four games to rush for 200 or more yards against them. The unit took it to heart.
Saturday, Illinois managed just 88 yards on the ground and 147 total in a 30-14 loss to the Hawkeyes here at Memorial Stadium. The Illini converted just 6 of 16 third-down attempts.
"Last week, we didn't play the way we wanted to and we just wanted to come out and show that's not who we are. We wanted to be dominant and I felt like defensively we did a really good job today," strong safety Johnny Lowdermilk said.
Illinois Quarterback Wes Lunt returned from a three-game injury absence. One of the more dangerous passers in the league, he couldn't get anything going against Iowa, finishing 14-25 for 102 yards.
"Last week, we didn't look like a good football team and we were playing a good football team. That's just a bad combination," Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. "So, hopefully, we're back. At least we took a step forward. I thought we played pretty good team defense today."
The Hawkeyes stacked up eight tackles for loss, their most since the season-opener against UNI. They held Illinois to 12 first downs on the day.
"I feel like we leveraged the ball a lot better than we did against Minnesota," cornerback Greg Mabin said. "I just felt like all 11 guys did their job. They didn't try to do anything extra. They gave their maximum effort and won their individual battles, which improved the defense as a whole."
INJURY REPORT: Regular punt returner and reserve wide receiver Riley McCarron sat out Saturday's game with mononucleosis according to Iowa Sports Information Director Steve Roe. The sophomore missed time earlier this year with an injured shoulder. Matt Vandeberg took over punt return duties.
BACK IN ACTION: Linebacker Reggie Spearman returned to the field after a two-game suspension following a drunk driving arrest. The sophomore from Chicago did not start but was inserted into the game on the second defensive series and played a lot.
Josey Jewell, a redshirt freshman, started his first college game. He opened at WLB, where Spearman started for the first seven games of the season.
Travis Perry started the last two weeks at middle linebacker but will miss the rest of the regular season after suffering a leg injury last Saturday at Minnesota. Quinton Alston this game switched from WLB to MLB, where he started the first seven contests.
Bo Bower started his 10th game at LEO linebacker.
TRAVEL SQUAD: Iowa players in uniform at Memorial Stadium on Saturday:
QB: Rudock, Beathard, Wiegers.
RB: Plewa, Weisman, Canzeri, Wadley, Kenny, Parker.
WR: Stone, Mitchell, McCarron, Vandeberg, Hillyer, Powell, Smith, Martin-Manley.
TE: Hamilton, Krieger Coble, Kittle, Duzey.
OL: Boettger, Donnal, Blythe, Scherff, Gaul, Walsh, Welsh, Ward, Myers, Croston, Simmons,
DL: Spears, Rathjen, Ekakitie, McMinn, Davis, Trinca-Pasat, Meier, Bazata, Johnson, Ott, Hardy
LB: Niemann, Gilson, Spearman, Fisher, Alston, Jewell, Bower
DB: Lomax, King, Fleming, Ward, Lowdermilk, Mabin, Gair, Rucker, Draper. Taylor.
ST: Koehn, Kornbrath, Kidd, Kluver.
SPECIAL TEAMS: How the Hawkeyes special teams units lined up against Illinois:
Kick Return: Parker, Weisman, King, Kenny, Krieger Coble, Plewa, Niemann, Fisher, Duzey, Kittle, Hillyer.
Kickoff Coverage: Koehn, Draper, Fisher, Fleming, Niemann, Spearman, Gilson, Taylor, Gair, Lomax, Jewell.
Punt Return: Vandeberg, King, Mabin, Fleming, Hillyer, Gair, Niemann, Mitchell, Plewa, Draper, Taylor.
Punt Coverage: Kornbrath, Kluver, Lomax, Alston, Lowdermilk, Mitchell, Wadley, Bower, Jewell, Fisher, Alston.
EXTRA-POINTS: Iowa rotated its right guards on Saturday. Jordan Walsh started and shared similar reps with Sean Welsh…Iowa rushed for a season-high 304 yards, the fourth-highest total under head coach Kirk Ferentz…The Hawkeyes were penalized just one time Saturday, a 10-yard holding call on the second-to-last play of the game…Iowa scored in all four quarters for the second time this season (Northern Iowa)…TE Ray Hamilton scored his first two career touchdowns…TE Jake Duzey caught three passes for 110 yards, the highest single-game yardage total by a Hawkeye this season…QB Jake Rudock was 14-of-21 for 210 yards and two touchdowns. Rudock rushed eight times for 39 yards and a touchdown. Rudock is the ninth player in school history to pass for 30 or more touchdowns. Rudock has 30 career touchdown passes, tying Brad Banks for No. 8 in school history…WR Kevonte Martin-Manley had two receptions for 56 yards. He has 1,680 career receiving yards, moving past Al Bream for No. 15 all-time.