Hawkeye defense prepares for challenging Iowa State offense

Iowa’s defense is getting ready for Iowa State’s tall receivers and talented running back.


Ben Smith

Iowa State running back David Montgomery is tackled by Iowa linemen during the Cy-Hawk game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. The Hawkeyes went on to defeat the Cyclones 44-41 to win the Cy-Hawk trophy.

Jordan Zuniga, Sports Reporter

After Iowa’s big win on Sept. 1 that made Kirk Ferentz the Hawkeye coach with the most victories in school history, the Hawkeyes now focus their attention to their biggest in-state rival, Iowa State.

If the Hawkeyes hope to win the Cy-Hawk game, they will have to be solid defensively all around, but their main focus will be Cyclone tailback David Montgomery. He is coming off an explosive sophomore campaign in which he rushed for 1,146 yards and 11 touchdowns and also caught 36 passes for 296 yards.

Last season, Montgomery torched the Iowa defense, rushing for 112 yards and a touchdown while rolling up 53 yards on 5 receptions.

The key to stopping Iowa State’s running game will start in the trenches.

“[Montgomery’s] an extremely competitive player,” Parker Hesse said. “Anytime we can stop him before he really gets started — up front and defensive line, slow him down, get hands on him, and get multiple guys to the ball — that’s going to be good for us in trying to slow him down.”

Stopping the rest of Iowa State’s offense

Of course, it’s not just the running game that Iowa needs to be concerned about — the Cyclone passing attack can be just as formidable.

It certainly was last season, when the Cyclones laughed off the Iowa defensive backs on their way to 347 yards and 4 touchdowns.

The focus should be on Iowa State’s senior quarterback Kyle Kempt. Last season, he started the final nine games for the Cyclones and racked up 1,787 yards and 15 touchdowns.

However, arguably a large part of Kempt’s success can be attributed to the talented receiver corps around him. Most notably, the 6-6, 225-pound junior Hakeem Butler. Iowa’s secondary is familiar with him from last season, when he caught 5 passes, 2 for touchdowns, and totaled 128 yards.

It will certainly be a tough group to cover for the Hawkeye secondary, but it’s a test it seems ready for.

“We just got to trust in our guys,” safety Jake Gervase said. “We just got to trust in our preparation, and if everyone’s doing his job, we’re going to be all right. It’s a challenge for us, but we’re excited for the opportunity.”

Rivalry week

The historic Iowa vs. Iowa State rivalry is one that started nearly 124 years ago, and while the current Hawkeye players weren’t around to witness the first game, they have their own opinions on the rivalry’s state.

Nate Stanley: “It’s a great rivalry; it’s an awesome experience to be in this game. Having family from Iowa, it’s awesome to be able to finally experience it.”

Parker Hesse: “I think anybody who’s from Iowa inherently knows the significance of this game in the state to both teams’ fan bases. It’s something you’re going to have to hear about win, lose, or draw. It’s something I’m definitely looking forward to.”

Toren Young: “Even through recruiting you kind of hear about it. It’s a big rivalry, big game everybody’s looking forward to it.”

T.J. Hockenson: “This has always been a big thing when I was younger, just because I’m from here. It has a special place in my heart, and I think it does for a lot of these guys.”