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Hawkeye defense tightens after allowing long touchdown

BY BEN ROSS | SEPTEMBER 04, 2012 6:30 AM

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CHICAGO — Micah Hyde had a tough time early in the game against Northern Illinois.

The senior cornerback was called for pass interference late in the second quarter. And he got beat to the sideline for a 25-yard completion to receiver Martel Moore on the very next play.

Hyde had cost the Hawkeye defense 40 yards in two plays. But Iowa stiffened up and held Northern Illinois to a field goal.

“As a corner you need to have a short memory,” Hyde said. “We just put our foot down. Throughout the game we had a couple mistakes, but we fought through them and kept executing our plays.”

The Hawkeye defense looked lost at times during Iowa’s narrow 18-17 victory. The Black and Gold’s D-line allowed only 55 yards through the air, but let the Huskie offense take command for the majority of the game. Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch racked up 119 rushing yards.

The biggest defensive blunder of the game came when Lynch scampered for 73 yards and a touchdown on a designed quarterback draw play on third-and-8 early in the third quarter. Iowa safeties Tanner Miller and Tom Donatell collided with each other to give Lynch a clear path to the end zone.

But like Hyde, the Hawkeye defense showed a short memory. The Hawkeyes ramped up their defense so much that Northern Illinois didn’t gain more than 5 yards on a single play in the entire fourth quarter as Iowa rallied to win.

Players admitted to being caught off-guard early. Junior linebacker James Morris said there was little film to dissect in order to better prepare for the Huskies’ offense, because Huskie offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar only arrived this season from New Mexico State.

“I thought we played pretty well, but give [the Huskies] credit,” Morris said after the game. “They’re a good offensive team. We figured things out. They had a new offensive coordinator, so we didn’t know what to do. We were watching New Mexico State film.”

The defensive line didn’t get consistent pressure, but two big sacks from Dominic Alvis and Joe Gaglione helped. Gaglione’s hit jarred the ball loose from Lynch, allowing fellow defensive tackle Carl Davis to swoop in and recover the ball at the Northern Illinois 14-yard line.

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz acknowledged that his defenses of past have struggled against dual-threat quarterbacks.

“Obviously we didn’t do a great job of [containing Lynch],” Ferentz said. “We expected him to be a really tough competitor. We knew that was going to be a challenge for us, and they did a nice job with a game plan for him spreading us out.”

Still, with Iowa State, Northwestern, and Michigan remaining on the schedule, the Iowa defense needs to improve greatly if it wants to battle quarterbacks who can run. And despite the grim outlook for Iowa in the waning minutes of the Sept. 1 game, Hyde claimed he knew Iowa could come out of Chicago as the victor.

“We knew we were going to be in it,” he said. “We knew it was going to come down to the fourth quarter. We knew we had to keep fighting. We made a mistake and they had a long run, but we came back to the sideline and the coaches were yelling at us to keep our heads up and go make plays.”


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