IOWA CITY, Ia. — Throughout the offseason, Carl Davis and the rest of Iowa’s defensive linemen carried on a friendly debate over who would record the Hawkeyes’ first sack of 2013.
After Saturday’s season opener — a 30-27 loss to Northern Illinois — the matter remained unresolved.
“We were close,” Davis said, “but those times we got back there, it happened to be a three-step drop — quick passes.”
Huskies quarterback Jordan Lynch always seemed to wiggle free, then find an open receiver downfield.
As a result, Iowa’s front four finished with zero sacks, and the Hawkeyes suffered a seventh straight defeat.
The next opportunity to reverse those numbers comes Saturday, when Missouri State visits Kinnick Stadium for an 11 a.m. game.
“It was a learning experience,” Davis said of his four-tackle performance against Northern Illinois. “I know I’ve got to get off my blocks quicker, just be more physical.”
The Hawkeyes did record six tackles for loss, while holding the elusive Lynch to 56 yards on 22 rushes. But those numbers only made the loss more exasperating.
Davis was particularly peeved by Lynch’s penchant for completing long passes.
“Those are the plays we need to make,” Davis said. “We should have been able to get there.”
When the pass rush failed, Lynch was able to exploit Iowa’s spotty secondary.
He finished with seven passes that covered 15 yards or more, including completions of 27 and 33 yards during a touchdown drive that tied the score 27-27.
“I don’t think it was anything to do with the mental aspect,” safety Tanner Miller said. “It was more technique-type things.
“Some of our corners, they squatted or got turned around, then struggled to recover.”
Two plays stuck out in cornerback Jordan Lomax’s mind.
“One time, a receiver ran a pretty good route, did about three different moves and then finally took off on a post,” Lomax recalled. “We had another breakdown where we were just hugging on the second receiver a little too much, and we should have been on the No. 1 receiver.
“It’s just some stuff we corrected and we learned from it.”
The Hawkeyes will try and apply those lessons against a Missouri State offense that averaged 17.5 points and 201.6 passing yards in 2012.
“We like the guys we have,” coach Kirk Ferentz said. “But you know, we are just going to have to play a little bit smarter.”
An emphasis will still be placed on pressuring the quarterback.
Lynch’s mobility led to some hesitation and thoughts of containment. Missouri State’s Kierra Harris ran for 51 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s 23-17 loss to Northwestern State.
Will that slow the Hawkeyes’ pursuit?
“First thing’s first: You’ve got to stop the run,” Ferentz said. “And we did a pretty good job of that. I thought we saw some positives up front.”
Iowa has recorded 13 sacks in its last 13 games. The Bears have nine touchdown passes in their last 12.
Tilting the statistics in the Hawkeyes’ favor may be a matter of brute force and the right attitude.
“That’s all I want to do every week is be more physical,” Davis said, “to the point where I’m beating my opponents up and they don’t want to play against me.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football