Previewing the Iowa Defense

GoBlueWolverine's Josh Turel breaks down the Iowa defense by analyzing the Hawkeye personnel.

Iowa's game last week against the Indiana Hoosiers was undoubtedly one of the worst performances of the year for the Hawkeyes.  So what went wrong?  “We just didn’t get the job done” Coach Ferentz said at his weekly press conference. “We got beat in zone coverage, man coverage….it wasn’t like it was just one particular call or technique.  We just didn’t get it done. We let them run when they had to run. I don’t say that in a way to take away from them.  They did a heck of a job, performed very well…almost flawlessly. If we’re not performing the way we need to be, then that’s a bad combination. Basically, they were playing well and we weren’t. That’s a dangerous mix”

Defensive Line

Defensive End
99 Bryan Mattison 6-3, 272, Jr.
96 Alex Kanellis  6-4, 281, So.
Defensive End
92 Kenny Iwebema  6-4, 270, Jr.
96 Alex Kanellis  6-4, 281, So.
Defensive Tackle
66 Ryan Bain  6-2, 282, So.
93 Ettore Ewen  6-0, 280, So.
Defensive Tackle
53 Matt Kroul  6-3, 271, So.
93 Ettore Ewen  6-0, 280, So.

One of the reasons for the struggles last week was the lack of solid defensive line play. Defensive end Kenny Iwebema, who came into the year as one of the best lineman in the conference, has been very quiet lately. He has ideal pass rushing ability and will need to step up in a big way this Saturday. With the exception of Iwebema, the current line doesn’t have any standout pass rushers. The Hawkeyes other defensive end, Bryan Mattison, is more of a power rusher. That said, he still has six and half tackles for the loss and three and half sacks.

The availability of defensive tackle Mitch King is unclear after he missed last week's game due to a hamstring injury. If he can give it a go, it will be a huge boost for Iowa. King is the best player up front and he was off to a great start before being knocked out. Thus far this season he has 30 tackles, seven for loss, and five and a half sacks. If King is unable to play, his spot will be taken by Ryan Bain. Bain has seen action in all seven games this season and has shown steady improvement. It could be argued that he is a better anchoring tackle than the starter at the other tackle spot, Matt Kroul. Kroul is an undersized penetrating type lineman that just doesn’t hold up well when teams run at him. He has the quickness that is needed to defeat Michigan’s zone blocking scheme but he needs to play with more consistency to be effective. Scheme wise, expect some front stemming (pre snap line movement) which is followed by line twists.


Outside Linebacker
44 Mike Humpal  6-2, 232, Jr.
49 A.J. Edds  6-4, 224, Fr.
Will Linebacker
27 Ed Miles  6-1, 228, Sr.
41 Bryon Gattas  6-1, 232, Jr.
Middle Linebacker
40 Mike Klinkenborg  6-2, 240, Jr.
51 Zach Gabelmann  6-1, 233, Sr.

This unit doesn’t have an Abdul Hodge or Chad Greenway type player, but they have been solid group so far this season. Middle linebacker Mike Klinkenborg leads the team in tackles with 73. He has prototypical size for the interior position and has solid athletic ability to go along with it. Senior Edmond Miles is the lone holdover from last year's unit. Miles is a compact athlete, who despite his size, is tied for the team lead with seven tackles for loss. Outside linebacker Mike Humpal has been adequate so far as well. He has 32 tackles so far this season to go along with one interception.


Left Cornerback
19 Adam Shada  6-1, 185, Jr.
10 Justin Edwards  6-1, 165, Fr.
Right Cornerback
13 Charles Godfrey  6-1, 208, Jr.
29 Bradley Fletcher  6-2, 195, So.
Strong Safety
15 Miguel Merrick  6-0, 203, Sr.
2 Harold Dalton  6-1, 192, So.

Free Safety
25 Marcus Paschal  6-0, 207, Sr.
11 Marcus Wilson  6-3, 198, Fr.

One unit of the defense that played particularly poorly against Indiana was the Hawkeye secondary. “I guess you could consider it a wake up call,” said cornerback Adam Shada. “We didn’t come to play on Saturday. Indiana played a great game.  You’ve got to give them credit, but that wasn’t Iowa football. We have to get back to the fundamentals and start playing some physical and high speed defense like we’re used to.” Though the Hawkeye defense will not have to face big play threat Mario Manningham, Michigan receivers Steve Breaston and Adrian Arrington are having productive seasons thus far and both have after the catch ability.  “They have good receivers” Shada said.  "You don’t stop them with one person.  We’ve all got to be flying to the ball. Short passes can turn into long passes, just like Ohio State. We’ve got to make sure that we’re running around.”

Expect to see a heavy dose of zone coverage from the Hawkeyes, who under Norm Parker, have traditionally been a zone heavy team. Cornerbacks Adam Shada and Charles Godfrey have the ideal size for the position but their inexperience is apparent at times. Godfrey has been tough against the run, though, ringing in with 40 tackles. Shada leads the team with three interceptions but doesn’t show the explosion and hip fluidity that is ideal in a great cornerback.

The safeties have had some injury issues. Backup safety Devan Moylan was lost for the season to injury and safety Marcus Paschal was been recovering from a lingering hamstring injury. Paschal will play this Saturday and his role will be key. Both he and strong safety Miguel Merrick are one of the better safety combinations in the conference when healthy.

Special Teams:

Kyle Schlicher is still one of the better kickers in the conference despite missing two field goals last week. Schlicher is 8/11 on the season with a long of 45 yards. Punter Andy Fenstermaker is averaging 35.2 yards per punt and has put 10 inside the opponent's 20 yard line.

The return units have lacked explosiveness.  Backup running backs Shonn Greene and Damian Sims haven’t been able to do much in this area. Andy Brodell on the other hand has been consistently productive returning punts. Brodell is averaging 10.6 yards a return thus far.

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