IOWA CITY, Ia. – The numbers on a tape measure and scale won’t necessarily add up to more sacks for Iowa’s patchwork defensive line.
But a little bulk wouldn’t hurt.
“You don’t have to be a certain height, a certain weight to play any position in football,” defensive line coach Reese Morgan said. “And thank God, because we would be in trouble. Alabama and LSU would be the only ones being successful.”
The Hawkeyes kicked off spring practices with a quartet of defensive ends who averaged 6-feet-5, 256 pounds, and a group of tackles averaging 6-3, 295 pounds.
Some of those measurements might be a tad generous, however, and a lack of size may have contributed to Iowa recording just 13 sacks in 12 games last season — the lowest total among Big Ten Conference teams.
“You’d like to have some tackles with some girth who can take on the double teams, who can bull rush, who can stop that inside run,” Morgan said. “Then, you’d like to have guys on the outside who can pressure the quarterback.”
As recently as 2009, the Hawkeyes had nearly 2 1/2 times as many sacks — 31 on the quarterback-harassing squad that won the Orange Bowl.
That unit was led by current Tampa Bay Buccaneers pass rusher Adrian Clayborn, who stood 6-4, 285 pounds and possessed all-America talent.
Dominic Alvis, a 6-4, 265-pound senior, will likely anchor Iowa’s front four next fall. He made three sacks in 12 starts as a junior.
“Dom is having a very good spring,” Morgan said. “A year ago, he was coming off that knee (injury) and early in the season was not confident.
“As the season went on, he became more confident.”
Drew Ott, a 6-4, 245-pound sophomore, was pressed into duty as a true freshman. He appeared in the final five games but is still seeking his first college sack.
“We did not want to put him out there,” Morgan said. “He agreed to do it, just to keep our rotation going.”
Freshman Faith Ekakitie (6-3, 287) and Mike Hardy (6-5, 270) have worked inside and outside this spring.
Darian Cooper (6-2, 280) is a potential starter at tackle.
“I don’t know what he’s listed at,” Morgan said, “but we are eye level to eye level.
“Coop has got some good skills.”
Tackle Louis Trinca-Pasat, recovering from shoulder surgery, is listed at 6-3, 290.
“I doubt if Louis was too much over 260-something last year,” Morgan said.
The roster is dotted with players of similar stature, but Morgan doesn’t set any ceiling on potential.
“We don’t have any parameters on height, weight or anything like that,” he said.
Size isn’t always good.
Carl Davis, a junior tackle, checks in at 6-5, 310 pounds.
“Carl has got a really good-sized body,” Morgan said. “You’d probably like to see him down a couple pounds.”
Others will have to grow into their roles quickly.
“Right now in our two deep, we have four freshmen that a year ago at this time were picking out a tux for prom,” Morgan said. “And now, they are going to be on the field for us in the fall.”
Iowa ranked 113th nationally out of 120 teams with 1.08 sacks per game last football season. How the Hawkeyes compared to the rest of the Big Ten:
Penn State: 34 — 209
Nebraska: 31 — 177
Wisconsin: 31 — 203
Ohio State: 30 — 259
Northwestern: 28 — 185
Indiana: 27 — 179
Minnesota: 26 — 176
Michigan: 22 — 184
Purdue: 22 — 158
Illinois: 21 — 137
Michigan State: 20 — 151
Iowa: 13 — 70
This is what Iowa’s defensive line looked like when spring practices began with year of eligibility as of 2013 season:
LE — Drew Ott, 6-4, 245, Soph.; Mike Hardy, 6-5, 270, Jr.
LT — Darian Cooper, 6-2, 280, Soph.; Jaleel Johnson, 6-4, 310, Frosh. (RS)
RT — Carl Davis, 6-5, 310, Jr.; Faith Ekakitie, 6-3, 287, Frosh. (RS)
RE — Dominic Alvis, 6-4, 265, Sr.; Riley McMinn, 6-7, 245, Soph.
Note: Louis Trinca-Pasat, a 6-3, 290-pound junior, is out of spring drills with a shoulder injury.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football