Defensive line sets tone for Iowa


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The Iowa run defense had struggled entering its Nov. 1’s game against Northwestern. It had allowed more than 200 rushing yards in each of the past two games and generally looked awful.

For a brief moment, it looked as if it might be much of the same. On the Wildcats’ first play from scrimmage, running back Justin Jackson — who had averaged 132 yards per contest in Northwestern’s previous three games — rushed for a gain of 15 yards.

The remainder of that drive set the tone for the rest of the game, a 48-7 resounding victory for the Hawkeyes.

Louis Trinca-Pasat swallowed quarterback Trevor Siemian whole for the first of his three sacks on the day. Two plays later, Drew Ott hurried Siemian, who threw an incomplete pass, and Northwestern had to punt.

“The past couple weeks, we haven’t been the Iowa defense that we want to be,” Carl Davis said. “We’ve been giving up way too many rushing yards. We were really mad at ourselves about our performance. It was kind of relieving to have this game today, but we have to keep our feet on the gas.”

In addition to Trinca-Pasat’s strong day, four other Hawkeyes recorded tackles for loss, pushing the Wildcat offense back a total of 56 yards. In the first half, Northwestern netted just 28 rushing yards, and Siemian was very familiar with the Kinnick Stadium turf.

Even more impressive, Trinca-Pasat did all his damage in the first half. The senior played sparingly after the break because of what he described as cramping.

Even with those limits, he did the damage against a team he has a history with.

Trinca-Pasat said the Wildcats recruited him coming out of high school and told him they would offer him if his ACT score was up to par. He said he met the requirements but never received an offer.

“There was interest, but obviously there wasn’t interest back from them, and, you know, it’s a little motivation,” he said.

That fuel was one of the reasons the unit played so well. Each of the players said getting back to the basics was the driving factor behind the performance.

The bye week leading into the game certainly helped, too. Davis said he and the rest of his teammates were able to get more rest and watch more film.

Davis made his presence felt on the game’s second drive. The big man zipped right through the Northwestern offensive line and engulfed Miles Shuler for a loss of 6 yards.

Engulfed isn’t hyperbolizing, either. Depending on the point of view, Shuler’s body momentarily disappeared from sight.

Ott continued his stellar season and applied pressure all day long. Nate Meier got involved and wreaked havoc. The list goes on.

“The big story of the game, to me, was both lines,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “I thought they did a good job, and certainly the defensive line came up with some critical stops there and pushing the pocket back there and causing pressure, so that’s a good thing.”

They know they’ll have to keep it up, too. It’s no secret Iowa takes on some of the best running backs in the country in these last four games, and Minnesota’s David Cobb is next on the list, beginning Saturday in Minneapolis.

“It gives us confidence, and we played as a team out there,” Trinca-Pasat said. “We practiced hard all week, and we just have to keep it going now.”

Follow @dannyapayne on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa football team.

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