Iowa defensive end Drew Ott has been nursing an injury over the last few weeks. He banged up his ankle against Iowa State and has been recovering ever since, looking to get back to 100 percent. He only played in passing situations against Pittsburgh, saw a little more reps against North Texas, but was full-go earlier today against Wisconsin.
With Ott back in full capacity against the Badgers, the defense was back to their old selves. It was an elite performance from them once again and they continue to be one of the better units in all of football. The favorable sign, other than only surrendering two field goals the entire game, was the promising health of Ott.
"I'm getting better every day," he confirmed afterwards.
Ott wreaked havoc today, both against the run and pass. His pass rushing seemed to take another step in the right direction since leaving with an injury three weeks ago. He had a few quarterback hurries on the day, one of which he was able to force Joel Stave into coughing up the ball, one of two Wisconsin fumbles on the day. It was recovered by Nate Meier, but Ott had his eye on a big play.
"Not yet," Ott said about recovering any of the fumbles he has forced so far this season. "I'm looking for it. I'm hoping for it. I was hoping it would be more towards the end zone."
"I saw it was a play action pass," he added. "I saw the ball. I got lucky and hit it."
We'll agree to disagree. I think it had far more to do with skill than luck. After all, it isn't the first time Drew Ott has made a game-changing play. He's not the only one. The entire defense has contributed to the unit's fantastic play so far. Holding the Badgers to six points in their own house is one heck of a feat.
With the offense sputtering, the defense carried a heavy load today, but they were up to the task each and every time.
"We kept saying 'if they don't score, they don't win'," Ott explained following the Big Ten opener in Madison. "It was kind of our goal, to keep them out of the end zone."
It's a lofty goal but one they met over and over.
With the Hawkeyes beginning the season at 5-0, a 2-0 record in trophy games, and more and more buzz about the program beginning to circulate, it can be tough to remain grounded. Dealing with adversity and criticism is tough but so is handling all the praise. Ott is confident that it will not be an issue in Iowa City this year.
"Coach Ferentz does a great job of (keeping us grounded)," he shared. "We just have to stay level headed, take everything one week at a time, and keep plugging away. I think (we're in the groove). We're mature enough. We haven't been good at it in the past but we know we have to keep a level head and take it one game at a time."