Hawk D-Line Applies Pressure

The Iowa defensive line spent the offseason working on generating an improved pass rush. Coach Kirk Ferentz mentioned it as being a need numerous times since last season. The Hawkeyes answered the bell in Saturday's 41-7 rout of Montana at Kinnick Stadium. HN.com Senior Writer Rob Howe focuses on the improved pressure in his Premium Feature.

Montana quarterback Josh Swogger was struggling to sit upright in his postgame press conference on Saturday. He looked worn out as the eye black rolled down his cheeks.

Swogger, a transfer from Washington State, ran for his life during much of the Grizzlies' 41-7 loss to Iowa on Saturday. The Hawkeyes entered the season wanting to apply more pressure on the passer than it did a year ago. Swogger played the role of guinea pig.

"They're physical," He said. "I mean, they're big, physical kids. They run well. They cover well. They're very well disciplined, very well coached. It didn't surprise me. We saw that on film. We knew we were coming into to a fight. They were a big, physical team."

The statistics showed that Iowa's front four registered three sacks, which isn't an overwhelming number. However, they made Swogger uncomfortable most of the day by at least chasing him out of the pocket even when they didn't throw him to the turf.

"When (receivers) are coming out of breaks and then trying to scramble because the quarterback is running the other way, it helps us out a lot because the difficult thing as a DB is the timing routes," Iowa Cornerback Adam Shada said.

"Montana is a timing offense. They run a lot of in and out, bunch routes. And they're looking to get the ball out when someone sits. Our defensive line did a great job and disrupted that timing. It's extremely noticeable in the secondary."

The Grizzlies managed just 144 yards of total offense and 11 first downs (two by penalty). Montana ran nine plays for minus 1 yard in the first quarter.

"I give the praise to the D-line," Iowa Safety Marcus Paschal said. "The D-line played tremendous for us. The secondary, we held up our own. The linebackers did as well. But the D-line had an incredible game. We can work from there. We start with the D-line and go to the back seven from there."

Iowa offered no option for the Grizzlies but to take to the air. The Hawkeyes held the visitors to 10 rushing yards on 24 carries.

Montana running back Greg Coleman, who previously played at Iowa City West High and Iowa State, carried 12 times for 13 yards.

"They did a real good job in twisting and turning and bringing different angles on our O-line," Coleman said. "The O-line did a good job, though. We knew what we were facing. They're a Top 5 defensive line in the country."

End Bryan Mattison and tackle Mitch King wreaked most of the havoc from Iowa's front. They combined for 2 ½ sacks and five tackles for loss.

"We had some good points and some bad points," Mattison said of the defensive line play. "We pressured the quarterback more, but I also think it needs to get a lot better. I don't think by any means we're ready to play in the Big Ten. This next week is going to be a big week to improve."

Iowa also took the field without its top pass rusher from a year ago, Ken Iwebema, who sat out the game because of a disciplinary suspension. True sophomore Alex Kanellis stepped in at end and recorded five tackles (one for loss) and half a sack.

"Compared to last year at this time, night and day, which is really good to see," Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said of the line play. "Those guys have been practicing really well. Probably the thing I was most impressed with from the group was that I really thought they worked hard in the pass rush. That's an area where we need to make some ground up. That's something we weren't real good as last year, at the end even. I think we've grown up now, that's the next step is to see if we can generate some pressure up front."

Ferentz also pointed out that Mattison has been somewhat of the forgotten man in terms of publicity. King and Iwebema received most of last year's postseason awards and the preseason honors this fall among defensive linemen.

"We've had a lot of focus on some other guys," Ferentz said. "Bryan's one of those guys that just digs and digs and digs. I'm not saying he's Aaron Kampman but he reminds me of an Aaron Kampman type player. That story turned out pretty good for Aaron recently, as well as when he was here. That's, to me, a good analogy I'd make right there. Aaron wasn't a flashy guy, necessarily, but he just works so hard. That's what has carried him so long, his pro career as well.

"Brian's got that mentality and attitude. He's worked extremely hard on his body. He was 215 when he came here. He works hard every day in practice, he's a student of the game. His dad was a coach, I think that probably helps too. He's one of those guys that really pulls everything together for us. He's been a key player for us on defense."

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