IOWA CITY, Ia. — Go ahead and try to tell one of the biggest and baddest players on the Iowa football team that the line is the defense’s weakest link.
Go ahead and say that to 6-foot-5, 310-pound Carl Davis, and you know what?
“He’ll probably turn it around into a joke,” defensive tackle Darian Cooper said Tuesday. “Carl — he’s a jokester. He’s our comic.”
They’re hoping Davis is a good player, too, starting against Northern Illinois at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Soldier Field in Chicago.
He’s healthy again. His kneecap is back in place after multiple injuries, and if the Hawkeyes are to have their fifth winning season in a row, Davis knows he can’t miss the middle of the season like he did in 2011.
“There have been a lot of questions about the defensive line, and that’s OK,” the tackle said. “It’s been kind of annoying, hearing people talk about us like that, but it’s part of the territory.”
Davis, a first-team all-state selection in Michigan as a senior in 2009, was a consensus three-star recruit. Injuries have prevented him from living up to his headlines, but take it from a Ferentz — Davis will be a good player.
“Carl’s a guy with a little more size, but he’s got the speed and quickness of smaller players,” center James Ferentz said. “He does a great job carrying his weight, (while) not losing the speed off the snap of the ball.”
Davis is the anchor of a position that includes four starters with a combined 13 starts — five by end Steve Bigach, and eight by Dominic Alvis, the other end.
“We’re a little thin in that (start) department, but that doesn’t mean anything,” Davis said. “Just watch.”
None of the four who will start Saturday started against Oklahoma in the Insight Bowl last season. Davis, a sophomore, will play in his seventh career game. The other inside starter, Louis Trinca-Pasat, played just one game last season.
Thus the questions, the uncertainty.
“That’s our most inexperienced group, by far,” coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Steve Bigach has emerged as a leader in that group. Louis Trinca-Pasat has done that in his own way — he’s a young guy that doesn’t miss much … a tough-minded guy.”
They mostly watched last season, though, as opponents gained an average of 378.9 yards against Iowa’s defensive line — the most the Hawkeyes have allowed since 2005.
Bigach, a senior, has 27 career tackles. Davis has two career stops. Trinca-Pasat, a sophomore, has one. Alvis, a junior, is the veteran with 32.
“What I see are a bunch of young guys that haven’t played much, that’s all,” safety Tom Donatell said. “What people are saying about that unit being an unknown gives the players that extra edge to prove that they can play.
“Everyone’s unknown until they start making it.”
What’s known, however, is that Davis owns a Chris Rock-like sense of humor.
“He’s the team comedian,” cornerback Micah Hyde said. “He’s the funniest guy on the team.”
Davis knows his place, though.
“Everyone needs to joke around sometimes,” Davis said. “After a long, rough practice, someone has to break the tension in the locker room, and that’s what I try to do.
“But when it’s time to get serious, I get down to business just like everyone else.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football