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

Iowa football’s defensive line bounces back with six sacks in win over Purdue

The unit had just three total sacks heading into the contest and were feeling the pressure of the lack of the production.
Cody Blissett
Purdue quarterback Hudson Card and Iowa defensive end Joe Evans observe the field after a play during the Iowa homecoming football game between Iowa and Purdue at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Boilermakers, 20-14.(Cody Blissett/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa football head coach Kirk Ferentz said he is usually weary of player-led meetings, as they often occur on the course of a losing season. But after team captain Joe Evans held a defensive lineman-only meeting ahead of Saturday’s matchup against Purdue that resulted in a season-high six sacks, he’s having second thoughts.

 Iowa’s defensive line bounces back with six sacks in win over Purdue.

“Joe can keep having meetings as far as I’m concerned if he guarantees that production,” Ferentz joked in his postgame press conference.

The six sacks were a huge factor in the team’s 20-16 win over the Boilermakers, sending the Hawkeyes to 5-1 overall halfway through the season. The Hawkeyes had just three sacks over the previous five games. 

Evans said the gist of the meeting was to refocus the unit’s mentality of not chasing sacks, but rather playing for one another. 

“It’s hard not to see sometimes people on social media, you know, criticizing us for not getting to the quarterback and not being productive,” Evans said. “We know how hard we play, and that’s kind of what the message was [to] just play for each other and just keep on keeping on.” 

Fith-year senior Logan Lee led the game in sacks with two and finished with a career-high in tackles and tackles for loss with 10 and 2.5, respectively.

Ferentz said coaching the 23-year-old is a pleasure due to his maturity and willingness to work hard. 

“He’s easy to coach because all he wants to do is just do well, [he’s] a high achieving guy in all phases of his life,” Ferentz said. “It’s great to see older guys have success when they’ve worked as hard as they’ve had.”

Linebacker Nick Jackson, who finished the game with seven tackles, recalled one of his first interactions with Lee in the weight room. A transfer from Virginia, Jackson was placed in Lee’s lifting group, and based on Lee’s constant encouragement and motivation during the workout, thought the defensive tackle was a coach. 

Jackson explained how such dedication to Iowa football rubs off on the rest of the defense. 

“He’s not necessarily doing the prettiest things all the time [because] he’s in the trenches, but he always comes to work, and he’s never complaining,” Jackson said. “It’s fun to play behind No. 85. He’s a world-class player.”

Evans said Lee is one of his favorite teammates he’s ever played with and was excited to see him play so dominant in the game. 

“He’s just a tremendous leader; he does everything for the team and always puts the team first,” Evans said. 

Defensive lineman Aaron Graves, who recorded five tackles and one sack against Purdue, said veterans like Lee bring a winning mentality to the defense. 

“These are guys that have been around a long time, and they know what it takes to be a winning team,” the sophomore said. “ I think they bring that attitude to the practice and to the games.”

The Hawkeyes’ lack of sacks on the defensive line may be due to being without last year’s starting defensive tackle Noah Shannon, who posted two sacks last season. 

Shannon was suspended for the entire season in August because of betting on a non-football Iowa athletic competition. On Thursday, the NCAA updated its guidelines for punishing athletes on gambling-related offenses, potentially signing a return for Shannon.

Evans said the news of Shannon possibly returning to the team also motivated the defensive line going into the Purdue game. 

“I’m not sure when, but I’m really hoping he’ll be able to play with us here soon,” he said. 

Ferentz didn’t confirm whether Shannon would be returning to the team but said the team has “encouraging” news it will share in the coming days. 

“We understand [and] he understands that he broke a rule, but I mean, is that worth capital punishment? It’s just silly,” Ferentz said. “I’ll just feel good for him to be back with the team because he feels like he’s let people down … These guys have feelings. They’re good, young people. 

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About the Contributors
Cooper Worth, Pregame reporter
Cooper Worth is a Pregame Reporter for The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and mass communication. He is also earning a minor in communication studies and an entrepreneurial management certificate. This is his third year at the DI, previously serving as a News Editor and as a News Reporter covering local government in Johnson County for the DI. Cooper interned for the Telegraph Herald in Dubuque, Iowa during the summer of 2023 as a general news reporter.
Cody Blissett, Visuals Editor
Cody Blissett is a visual editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a third year student at the University of Iowa studying cinema and screenwriting. This is his first year working for The Daily Iowan.