Defense Preps for Up-Tempo 'Cats
Oct. 23, 2012
That is the offensive mindset the University of Iowa defense will be up against when it faces Northwestern's up-tempo attack Saturday in Evanston, Ill.
With an offense trying to get to the edge and in space on a down-in-and-down-out basis, the Hawkeyes open-field tackling will be at a premium.
"They're not a real pound it, run-the-ball type team," said UI junior safety Tanner Miller. "They'll spread you out, go east and west and get you running from side-to-side. That's where they're deadly.
"Open-field tackling is going to be a huge part this week. They live and die on the yards after catch. They have three great receivers that can all do that."
After being on the field for 90 plays in last week's 38-14 loss against Penn State, Iowa is preparing for another marathon test. The Wildcats average 74.6 plays per game en route to 394 yards of total offense and 30.8 points.
Through seven games, Iowa has averaged 65.9 plays per contest, while the defense has been on the field an average of 68.5 plays.
"It is an up-tempo deal that is going to test our conditioning on the defensive side of the ball," said UI senior defensive tackle Steve Bigach. "They have so many athletes at so many different positions. They can attack you in many different ways... you're going to have to be sound in all areas."
One of Northwestern's most dynamic weapons is junior Kain Colter, who poses a threat running, passing and catching the ball. The quarterback/wide receiver has completed 56-of-80 passes for 437 yards with two touchdowns through the air, gained 456 yards and scoring eight touchdowns on the ground and caught 16 passes for 169 yards as a receiver.
"We have to be prepared for everything," said Miller. "They move Colter all over the place at any of the receiver spots and in the backfield. He's a big running threat as well. It should be a great challenge for us."
Last season, Northwestern used Colter primarily as a wide receiver and as a change-of-pace quarterback in Iowa's 41-31 victory on Oct. 15. He finished the game with 82 rushing yards, completed 2-of-4 passes for 44 yards and a touchdown, and had six catches for 71 yards.
UI junior linebacker Christian Kirksey says the Hawkeyes will have to game plan for whatever is thrown their way.
"He's a weapon," said Kirksey. "You have to make sure in your game plan you stop that weapon and game-plan against them. He's a big threat. We have to play sound defense and fly to the ball."
After surrendering 504 yards of total offense against the Nittany Lions, Kirksey says the Hawkeyes will be prepared for anything against Northwestern.
"We expect to get tested in the passing and running game, especially after what happened last week," he said. "We have to make sure we're in tune during practice (this week) and practice at an up-tempo."
Saturday's game will be televised live on ESPN2 beginning at 11 a.m. (CT), with Beth Mowins, Joey Galloway and Lewis Johnson calling the action.