Hoosier defensive tackles dominate Iowa line


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BLOOMINGTON, IND. — Take two redshirt freshmen offensive linemen, 270 and 275 pounds, and line them up against a 294-pound senior and a 295-pound fifth-year senior.

Iowa’s Jordan Walsh and Austin Blythe were pitted against defensive tackles with three times as much experience as they have on Nov. 3, and the Hawkeye offensive line struggled because of it.

Hoosiers Adam Replogle and Larry Black, Jr. dominated the Iowa offensive line and stopped both the running game and passing game from the beginning.

“Credit goes to [Replogle and Black] — they’re good players, experienced players,” center James Ferentz said. “They affected the game, and they did more than we could, and they won.”

Replogle and Black have played in every game for Indiana since 2009 and have racked up a combined 289 career tackles. The seniors’ experience makes them the undeniable leaders of the Hoosier defense.

Walsh and Blythe, however, have only played this season and haven’t been in for every snap. Blythe started the first four games of the season before he lost his starting job because of an injury. The Hawkeye guards were matched up against bigger and more experienced tackles.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence in those young guys [Walsh and Blythe], and I thought they battled their hearts out,” quarterback James Vandenberg said. “You’re going to win some, you’re going to lose some against good players.”

Vandenberg was under heavy pressure all game. Black sacked him once for a loss of 10 yards.

“James got sacked — those big guys were getting a lot of penetration,” wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley said. “I was running routes, and I was looking back, and James was on the floor.”

Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said the Hoosier defensive linemen have played a big role in the team’s recent success.

“Our defense has changed because of Larry Black, Adam Replogle … and the seniors,” Wilson said. “Their relentlessness and their effort and energy. It starts with the whole front, but it really starts inside.”

The Hawkeyes knew that Black, Jr. and Replogle were going to be an issue before even stepping foot on the field. Blythe said he focused on the two defensive tackles throughout the entire week of practice but still struggled against them on the field.

The Hawkeyes didn’t fare well against the duo last year, either. Vandenberg was sacked four times when the Hoosiers came to Kinnick Stadium in late October 2011, and Replogle got to him twice.

“We were a little more veteran, a little more sound at the guard position last year when we played these guys,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It was a tough matchup for us a year ago. Thought it might be a little of an issue for us today, and it certainly proved to be … We didn’t do a good enough job against them. Run or pass.”

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