Iowa’s Defensive Line: Nation’s Best?



Currently one the best defenses in all of college football lives in Iowa City right now.  The Iowa Hawkeyes lead the nation in total defense (227.5), rank third in rushing defense (65.5) and fifth in scoring defense (12.0). Much of that has to do with their defensive line, which rivals Alabama as quite possibly the nation’s best.

Led by the All-World Adrian Clayborn, and fellow frequent visitor to opponents’ offensive backfields Karl Klug, the unit has wreaked havoc through the first four games. Also seeing time at a starting position in Iowa’s 4-3 are Broderick Binns, Mike Daniels and Christian Ballard, a senior from Lawrence, Kansas who starred at Free State high school.

By Paul M. Banks

Ballard has a tackle for a loss, and two pass breakups on the young season. He talked about what his team did so well on a day when they crushed Ball State 45-0 and kept their opponents from crossing midfield until the 3rd quarter.

“A lot of film study. We knew what they were going to do, all of our defensive line was in there preparing for them, flying around to the ball, good leadership by Adrian. Everybody was on the same page, and we kept the rotation fresh,” he responded.

For his efforts, Iowa d tackle Mike Daniels was named conference defensive player of the week.

Daniels recorded four tackles for loss, including a seven-yard sack, to help Iowa pitch a shut out. The junior collected six tackles on the day, and his four tackles for loss pushed the offense back 20 yards. He was part of a defense that collected two takeaways and allowed only 56 passing yards, the second-fewest yards through the air allowed in 11-plus years under head coach Kirk Ferentz.

“He did a good job generating a lot of energy out there,” Ballard said of Daniels.

“He’s a spark and he’s been like that since last year. This year he’s stepped up his play and elevated us as well. He’s so low to the ground, and he can beat anybody off the ball,” he said.

I asked him what’s been the key to their success in stopping the run,

“Our number one philosophy is stop the run. We like to stop the run with four guys, the front seven. We don’t like to bring an extra guy in the box, it’s imperative that we play a two gap technique and take on double teams, and that’s the stuff we practice on every day, and that helps the linebackers make plays,” he answered.

Written by Paul M. Banks, President and CEO of The Sports , a Midwest focused webzine. He is also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, the Chicago Tribune’s blog network, Walter, the Washington Times Communities, Yardbarker Network, and Fox

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank

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