Iowa State vs Iowa football: Previewing the Hawkeyes defense


Without question, the strength of this Iowa team will be at its defense. They rank in the top 10 nationally in stopping the run. The defensive line is stout and experienced, but what about the turnover at linebacker and in the secondary?

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Starting lineup:

Free safety Jordan Lomax and the right side of the defensive line — Luis Trinca-Pasat and Drew Ott — have shined so far this season, recording 53 of the team’s 137 total tackles so far. But Ott may not be his normal self. It was reported on Monday that he was in a scooter accident. Head coach Kirk Ferentz still expected him to play on Saturday.

If Ott’s not able to go, that would leave junior Melvin Spears up next on the depth chart, who hasn’t recorded a tackle yet this season.

Stat totals are still too early to completely go off of with it being just Week 3 and FCS teams making opponents look better than they really are, but Iowa does rank 40th nationally in total defense. As expected, it’s the rush defense — they’ve held teams to 57.5 yards on the ground. They held Ball State to a paltry 219 total yards and kept them off the field allowing just 4-of-16 third down conversions.

The Iowa defense has done well replacing their entire linebacker starting corps and half the secondary. Their defensive line will create plenty of havoc on the Cyclones’ offensive line. If neither Aaron Wimberly or DeVondrick Nealy can get things going on the ground, it will be up to Sam Richardson‘s legs and arm to keep the offense out there.

Iowa can be beat in the air, and UNI showed that by reeling in 380 passing yards on them in the opener. If the ISU offensive line can protect enough for Richardson to get the ball to his receiving corps, even for quick dumpoff passes, that could counter the potential poor running results. Taking advantage of their special teams strengths and exploiting the Hawkeyes’ weaknesses would be beneficial, too.