Coach's Take on DE Kenny Iwebema

Dusty Wittig reels in an exclusive interview with Iowa defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski, where he talks about the Cardinals newly signed fourth-round pick. Coach Kaczenski goes on to discuss Kenny's off the field personality, his chances of making the Cardinals 2008 roster, the strengths and weaknesses of his game and more in this exclusive.

Dusty Wittig: In your words what kind of player is Kenny Iwebema?

Rick Kaczenski: I think Kenny is a guy with a ton of potential. He still has his best football ahead of him. He is a high-effort guy and I think he is a tough guy. When you describe Kenny, the thing you say is that he is a football player. When you look at tape you think that this is a guy you want on your side. He's the guy you want to break the huddle with.

DW: What is the best part of Kenny's game?

RK: I think the strongest part of his game is that he has a lot of tools and natural ability. He is aware of his abilities and knows how to apply them to get the best of the guy blocking him. As the game goes on, Kenny is one of those guys that gets better. He studies his opponent and figures out throughout the game what his opponent is doing. The best part of his game is that he has all of the tools in his bag to counter how people are trying to attack him.

DW: What are some things Iwebema will need to improve?

RK: I think one of the things Kenny needs to improve is his pass rushing. He has all of the tools and ability to become a great pass rusher, but because he has played in our system for so long, he has become accustomed to trying to stop the run first. We play our ends as two gap defenders, where they don't have the freedom to take the edge and go. Kenny has played in the system for five years, and he will have to break the habit of nosing up and being a two gap player. Now that he's with the Cardinals, he can cut it loose and go after the quarterback. He has a great take off and first step, so in a system like Arizona's that pressures the quarterback, I think that Kenny has his best football ahead of him.

DW: What kind of guy is Kenny off of the field?

RK: Kenny is great. Unfortunately, I only had Kenny for a year but he was great. He really matured through his last couple years. He was a guy I didn't have to worry about off of the field. I had a great group of guys and he was one of the guys that kept things together last year. He was easy to coach and I enjoyed having him in my room. He definitely will be missed.

RK: I always knew that Kenny was going to do what he had to do for us. He definitely knew how to get the job done. He was a good student and his last semester was his best academically. I think he had over a 3.0 GPA, which is a testament to him, because a lot of guys shut down over their last semester. His family is very important to him and I believe he has a serious girlfriend. He lives a simple life. His family, girlfriend, school and football are the things that are important to him.

DW: What is your favorite memory of Kenny?

RK: To be honest, it is him getting his degree. I only had him for one year, but I know getting a degree was something that was important and something that he worked on. He got it in the month of December and I was able to witness that. That is a big deal and most guys don't realize how important that is.

RK: On the field just looking back at last year, he was one of the guys that kept this thing together. We had a lot of bumps in the road and had to play younger guys. Kenny stepped it up and kept us together. He will be missed around here for sure. To tell you one memory on the field, it's hard for me to say that. Overall, in general this guy was a heck of a football player for us and did everything I asked him to do.

DW: How do you think Kenny will adjust to the NFL caliber talent he will be facing?

RK: I know by watching Arizona a little bit that they let their guys loose a little more than we do. I think that he will be able to utilize his tools better down there then here. There were times we asked him to take on some double teams to stop the run. In their system he will have the chance to cut it loose, pin his ears back and go after the quarterback. Those are the things he is good at. I know the competition is a lot better in the NFL, but Kenny has played with a lot of those guys over the years. I have coached with Ron Aiken for three years and I know he will demand Kenny to get better and become a student of the game. I think Kenny is going to have a great future and his best football is ahead of him with the Cardinals.

DW: How comfortable is Kenny with playing the 3-4 defense?

RK:Kenny is a very athletic guy and I know he is athletic enough to play the 3-4. He is very versatile, can play on his feet and with the hand on the ground. When you're talking personnel, he is the type of guy you can utilize at both positions. He can play the rush and the drop. That type of system will suit Kenny a little better. He is a smart and very aware football player.

DW: How would you describe Kenny's leadership skills?

RK: I think that Kenny is probably more of a quiet leader. He gets excited on game day and comes to work. We play with lunch pail guys and I think Kenny is the type to lead by example, more than being a cheerleader and getting guys going in the locker room. He is an example guy which I think is the kind we prefer here at Iowa.

DW: What is the best hit/play that you remember Kenny making?

RK: In the opener against Northern Illinois. They were in a trips formation and they brought the tight end across to block Kenny. He beat the tight end and then a wide receiver tried to crack block him. He got over that and then went on to beat the pulling guard and still made the play. Basically Kenny was triple teamed and still put a great hit on the tailback.

DW: Is there anybody in the NFL that Kenny is comparable too?

RK: Without Kenny playing a snap yet, it's hard to compare him to anyone. But I think he carries a lot of traits that resemble one of those versatile players that you see in the 3-4 defense. Hopefully the Cardinals can take advantage of his physicality, strength and athletic ability.

DW: Is there anything else you would like to say about Kenny?

RK: I just think he is one of those guys that will improve the longer they are in the league. He is going to be well coached and will continue to get better. I really believe that his best days are ahead of him.

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