This is a good week for Karl Klug to chow down.
As Iowa’s senior defensive tackle prepares for Saturday’s football showdown against Wisconsin, packing on a few extra pounds might pay dividends against the Badgers.
“They’re big. They’re talented,” Klug said. “They’re probably going to be one of the better offensive lines we face this year.”
Wisconsin’s starting front five averages 320 pounds, and each stand a minimum of 6-foot-4.
They’re a primary reason the Badgers (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten Conference) rank 12th nationally in rushing. The have allowed 232.7 yards per game and 24 touchdowns.
Quarterback Scott Tolzien also benefits from solid blocking. He has completed 70.9 percent of his passes and Wisconsin has given up a total of five sacks in seven games.
“It makes it challenging on pass plays,” Klug said, “with (the linemen’s) arm length.”
Klug seemed like a long shot after joining the Hawkeyes (5-1, 2-0) in 2006.
He arrived in Iowa City as a 6-4, 208-pound pass rusher, but became an interior force by bulking up to his current weight of 270.
“I don’t know how he did that,” linebacker Troy Johnson said. “He’s still just as fast.”
For Klug, lifting a fork became as important as hitting the bench press.
“You’ve just got to eat and eat, drink shakes or whatever,” Klug said. “That was actually my goal. I told myself, my fifth year I wanted to be 270.
“I just knew it would take a lot of work.”
What Klug didn’t foresee was a shift to the middle of Iowa’s defensive line.
“Karl’s a guy that we projected as a defensive end, quite frankly,” coach Kirk Ferentz said.
“We accidentally discovered he’s not bad inside, only because we had to throw him in there at one of the practices a couple of summers ago.”
The Hawkeyes were grinding through a goal-line scrimmage when Klug made a couple of eye-catching stops.
“As soon as I got my weight up, kind of close for a D-end, they moved me inside,” Klug recalled. “I was like, ‘Now, I have to gain even more.’ ”
He continued to alter his physique while eating four times daily.
“I kind of base my day around eating,” Klug said. “I know I should probably eat more than I do.”
His favorite meal is steak.
“Chicken breast gets old after a while,” Klug said.
Meeting Klug’s identical twin, Kevin, gives teammates a before-and-after comparison.
“I’ve seen him and his brother. It’s crazy,” defensive back Tyler Sash said. “From when Karl first got here to now, he looked like a tall safety, body-wise.”
Klug overcame early foot and back injuries to start 19 consecutive games.
He received all-Big Ten honors from the Sporting News last season after making 65 tackles, including 13 for loss.
“He backed up a pretty good player in Mitch King,” Ferentz said of Klug’s role in 2008, “and when he got an opportunity, he really had a fantastic year (in 2009).
“(Defensive end) Adrian Clayborn certainly played tremendously well, and Karl was just a step behind him.”
This season, Klug ranks ahead of Clayborn statistically with 29 tackles, including six for loss.
Clayborn has 28 tackles and five for loss.
“He’s such a physical player,” Sash said of Klug. “He does the little things that add up to doing big things on Saturdays.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football