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Iowa football notebook: Defensive leadership, Rudock not satisfied

BY DANNY PAYNE | JULY 17, 2014 5:00 AM

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Iowa football fans know a large part of the Hawkeyes’ 8-5 finish last season stemmed from the success of an experienced linebacking corps — one that has two players on NFL rosters.

But with the team’s three leading tacklers — Anthony Hitchens, James Morris, and Christian Kirksey — lost to graduation, a chunk of the responsibility to perform and lead has shifted a few yards toward the defensive line.

“We have to be leaders; we have to be the guys out there pushing the conditioning and strength,” defensive lineman Drew Ott said. “We’ll have to help guide them on game days and stuff like that.”

But for Ott and the rest of the unit, part of the burden is to get the rest of the front seven up to speed as quickly as possible.

Projected middle linebacker Quinton Alston, who by all accounts has made a seamless transition into a more prominent role, should lighten some of the load on the line, but the pieces around him are less heralded than the senior.

One of those potential contributors is outside backer Travis Perry, who had 10 tackles as a sophomore and earned a scholarship in the spring.

“They’re there pushing us each day,” Perry said about the defensive line. “They expect the best out of us just like we expect the best out of them. Ultimately, it’s 11 guys who have to do their job right to help the team be successful.

“Now that you’re surrounded with the first-stringers, it pushes you to be better because you want to make those other guys better; that’s what it’s all about.”

No complacency for Rudock

After Iowa’s 2013 season ended, head coach Kirk Ferentz led some to believe C.J. Beathard may see the field more than he did when he backed up Jake Rudock. Rudock was named the starter in the spring and will lead Iowa again during his junior year.

After getting the nod so early and putting up solid numbers — 2,383 yards passing and 18 touchdowns while completing 59 percent of his passes — during his first year under center, Rudock is refusing to let those numbers satisfy him.

“I’m not complacent … I’m pushing Brandon Scherff to get better, I’m pushing Mark Weisman to get better, they’re pushing me to get better,” Rudock said. “If someone starts getting complacent, we kind of have a problem with that.

“We never want that to settle in because once you start getting happy where you are, you get worse.”

On the recruiting trail

Newly hired Iowa recruiting coordinator Seth Wallace met the media for the first time since returning to Ferentz’s staff after serving as a graduate assistant from 2006-08.

After most recently serving as defensive coordinator in Valdosta State in Georgia, Wallace answered many questions about potentially opening recruiting avenues in the high-school hotbeds of areas such as the southeastern United States that Iowa traditionally does not recruit from.

“The Southeast is different, [linebacker coach LeVar Woods] is currently in Atlanta right now, we’re trying to make some inroads there. Again, Iowa’s different; [recruits] have to recognize Iowa is different.

“… Whether that be in the Southeast, whether that be in the Northeast, at the end of the day, getting individuals to Iowa City, to the University of Iowa, that’s a big deal.”


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