The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Sticking a big D in defense

Iowa defensive back Desmond King blocks a pass ment for North Texas wide receiver Thaddeous Thompson during the Iowa-North Texas game in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015. The Hawkeyes defeated the Mean Green, 62-16. (The Daily Iowan/Margaret Kispert)

Following a 10-6 win in a defensive battle over the weekend in Wisconsin, the 5-0 Iowa football team is ranked 22nd in the nation and has Illinois Saturday for Homecoming.
Let’s take a look at a few key stats, which highlight the Hawkeyes success almost halfway through 2015.

Iowa rushing touchdowns allowed — 0 (1st in NCAA Division-I)

Yes, you read that right. If you haven’t heard by now, the Hawkeyes are the only team in all of Division I that has yet to allow an opponent into the end zone via the ground. That’s pretty darn impressive.

Overall, the Hawkeyes are No. 2 in the Big Ten in rushing defense, allowing 84.4 yards per game. Michigan ranks first in the Big Ten with 71.4 yards per contest. On the national scene, Iowa’s rushing defense is good for 11th among Division-I schools.

Much of this success is due to the Hawkeyes’ play in the red zone. Iowa has only allowed 14 rushing yards inside its own 20 this season, and opponents are averaging 1.27 yard per carry within 20 yards of the goal line.

What may come as a surprise to some is how this front-seven compares with Hawkeye teams from years past. In 2013, led by NFL-caliber linebackers James Morris, Anthony Hitchens, and Christian Kirksey, the Hawks allowed more than 3.5 yards per rush in the red zone. Last year, anchored by a solid defensive line, Iowa allowed an improved 2.74 yards per rush in that part of the field.

Of course, only five games have been played this season, but if this pace keeps up, Iowa should be in good shape.

Desmond King interceptions — 5 (T-1st in NCAA Division-I)

King, the co-Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week because of his two interceptions against the Badgers, has been on a torrid pace this season. If he can sustain his current clip, and that’s a big if, he’ll shatter the single-season program record of 8, shared by Lou King and Nile Kinnick.

Don’t just take his total at face value, however, as the junior’s interceptions this season have come at key points in the game. His first of the year, against Iowa State, all but sealed the deal for the Hawkeyes.

One of his two in the Pittsburgh game came in the end zone, when Pittsburgh targeted its best receiver, Tyler Boyd. His second in the Wisconsin game came at the Iowa 11.

If King doesn’t make those plays, perhaps each contest has a different outcome.

Hawkeye scoring defense — 15.4 points per game (5th in Big Ten)

It’s tough to complain about that mark if you’re an Iowa fan, especially considering the 2014 Hawkeyes finished with 25.6 points per contest last season.

It’ll be tough for defensive coordinator Phil Parker’s unit to keep this up, as Iowa’s seven remaining opponents average 27.23 points. Indiana, which the Hawkeyes are scheduled to play in Bloomington on Nov. 7, leads the way in the Big Ten with 36 points per contest.

The Fighting Illini rank seventh in the Big Ten and third among Iowa’s remaining opponents with 30.2 points per game.


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