Hawkeye defense gears up to face Jantz again

BY BEN ROSS | SEPTEMBER 07, 2012 6:30 AM

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Greg Castillo remembers his performance against Iowa State last year.

There are a lot of plays to regret from that 44-41 triple-overtime defeat, but a couple of snaps in particular stick in the mind of the senior corner.

“I remember I let up two touchdowns,” he said. “I’ve watched the film too many times.”

A year later, Castillo still blames himself for the loss, calling his coverage breakdowns “the reason we lost.” The entire defense needs to drastically improve in order avoid suffering the same fate as last year’s team: A shredding at the hands of quarterback Steele Jantz and the Cyclones in Ames a year ago.

Some may take solace in that the Iowa defense surrendered only 55 passing yards last week against Northern Illinois. But the Hawkeyes also allowed 119 rushing yards to Huskie quarterback Jordan Lynch, who exploited a defensive breakdown for a 73-yard touchdown run.

Jantz accounted for 321 yards and 2 touchdowns against Iowa last year. With another year under his belt, the senior’s play should only improve.

“He’s a good quarterback,” senior cornerback Micah Hyde said. “He’s a dangerous player. If he gets out of the pocket, he can make a lot of good plays for his team. Hopefully, we can contain him and get some pressure on him to force him into some uncomfortable situations.”

Pressuring the Iowa State quarterback might just be the key. Head coach Kirk Ferentz called Jantz’s performance against Iowa last season might have been “his highlight reel.” Ferentz said the Hawkeyes would need to keep Jantz from running outside the pocket to keep that reel shorter this year.

“[It] might be a good idea if we try to keep him contained a little bit,” Ferentz said. “He’s a very good athlete, and with their scheme, it makes it tough.  It’s easier to say that than do it.”

Iowa’s defensive line showed positive signs against Northern Illinois, recording two sacks and a forced fumble. Still, the unit has to show it can stop — or at least slow down — a dual-threat quarterback in time for Iowa State’s arrival.

Corralling passers is a task the defensive line seems to embrace, though. Dominic Alvis, who recorded a sack against Northern Illinois, said it’s difficult to contain a player with numerous skills.
“The challenge is containing Steele Jantz. If there’s one thing we need to focus on, it’s that — contain.

He’s not the first mobile quarterback I’ve seen. It’s something you need to hone in and work on every day in practice.

“As a defensive linemen, when a guy is a dual threat like that, it’s upsetting. It’s just another thing on your plate you have to worry about.”

But Ferentz said it isn’t just the defensive linemen responsible for keeping Jantz in the pocket.

“[It’s] everybody,” he said. “It depends on the call and the formation, but somebody always has containment. It’s part of defense, and if it breaks down you really run the risk of being in trouble. And we found out the hard way last year.”

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