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

The Box Score: Iowa’s defense could be sharp

Alyssa Hitchcock
Iowa defensive back Desmond King punt returns the ball during the Cy-Hawk Series game against Iowa State in Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa on Sept. 12, 2015. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cyclones, 31-17. (The Daily Iowan/ Alyssa Hitchcock)

Will the Iowa defense be as dominate as it was last season?

Mario Williams

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The 2015 season success for the Iowa football team came in a number of areas. But most importantly, the defense was pivotal.

Even with the absences of Drew Ott and Nate Meier this upcoming season, Iowa has quite the talent returning on the defensive side. In terms of the defensive line and secondary, Iowa isn’t the defense a team would want to compete against come Saturdays.

But with that, will the Hawks be able to defend what they did last season?

Here’s a look at some of the numbers they put up on the defensive side.

Interceptions — 19

Much of Iowa’s success when it comes to interceptions is credited to Josey Jewell and Desmond King. Both are returning starters, and they collectively had 12 interceptions last season.

Iowa led the Big Ten with 19 interceptions last season for 321 yards, which shouldn’t be a surprise. King also led the conference with 8 interceptions, and Tanner McEvoy of Wisconsin trailed with 5.

Another returning starter, Greg Mabin, had 2 interceptions last season.

Look for these athletes to continue where they left off when it comes to interceptions.

“We just have to stay humble and hungry,” King said. “We kind of remember what we had going into last season, with the leadership style and how the team carried itself and what we did on a daily basis. But we feel like last year is that year and this year is this year. We just need to keep everything on the same run as last year.”

Red-zone scores           allowed — 29

While the Hawkeyes allowed 36 red-zone appearances, it was scored on 29 times with 18 touchdowns. That ranked sixth in the Big Ten last season.

However, it wouldn’t be surprising if Iowa’s defense doesn’t allow many teams to get into the red zone that often this season.

Tackles for loss — 62.0

Ott and Meier combined for 18 tackles for loss last season, but even with their absence, Iowa is still hopeful that it can fill the gaps.

Iowa will return starters with Jaleel Johnson and Nathan Bazata, as well as Parker Hesse, who started at defensive end after Ott suffered a season-ending knee injury last season.

“Anytime you can get actual game experience is invaluable. There’s nothing that can truly simulate that in the off-season or on the practice field,” Hesse said. “I’m just looking to build on that, and improve as a player, and improve my contribution on the team this year.”

Sacks — 30

Ott and Meier also combined for 11.5 sacks last season. With these two rushing the passer as much as they did last season, this is something Iowa’s defensive line will have to focus more.

The defensive line hasn’t had a chance to get after it in practice for some time now, because it worked outside of an imaginary circle to stay away from starting quarterback C.J. Beathard, who had a slight injury.

Johnson will return this season with 3.5 sacks under his belt, and he will be looked upon to raise that total in 2016.

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