Oct. 31, 2013
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- It may not always be eye-popping, but Iowa's base defense never looked better than it did last week - particularly during one very important series.
Louis Trinca-Pasat sacked quarterback Kain Colter on the final play of Iowa's overtime victory against Northwestern last week. It was the Hawkeyes' sixth sack of the day, and defensive coordinator Phil Parker said there was nothing fancy about it. Just good football players making great plays at opportune times.
"They finished it up on fourth down," said Parker. "We did pretty well on the third down, and on fourth down we just played our base defense and it worked out for us. It was a good victory."
Parker said the final series against the Wildcats -- which ended the game after the Iowa offense scored on its first possession -- could create some momentum for the defense, starting this week against No. 22 Wisconsin.
"We got over the hump a little bit last week -- playing a tight game, a close game, and then closing it out and winning it," said Parker. "Obviously, Wisconsin is a very good team and it will be a great challenge for us."
The Badger program has eerily resembled the Hawkeyes' since former Iowa assistant Barry Alvarez was named Wisconsin head coach in 1990. Alvarez stepped down following the 2005 season, but Bret Bielema, another former Hawkeye and coaching assistant, was hand-picked to succeed Alvarez as head football coach.
Bielema left for the SEC following the 2012 regular season, and though the Badgers' new head coach, Gary Andersen, may not possess the Hawkeye lineage of his predecessors, Parker said Wisconsin's identity has largely remained the same.
"I think they're very similar offensively to what we've seen in the past," said Parker. "They have unbelievable backs that can run, so they kind of run the same offense with similar plays. They do a great job and they're doing very well."
Wisconsin leads the Big Ten averaging 296 rushing yards per game, but stopping the run has been one of Iowa's strengths -- the Hawkeye defense allows just 128 rushing yards per game. Should the rushing pendulum lean toward Iowa on Saturday, Parker said the defense must be ready for misdirection.
"It's going to be a challenge for us to try to stop the run, but also the play-action pass," said Parker. "They do a very good job of moving the quarterback a little bit on play-action, and they have a receiver that can make plays. They move both of those guys around, so we'll need to be disciplined in fundamentals and technique, and we will need to play hard the whole game. It's definitely going to be a challenge."
Kickoff on Saturday is at 11:06 a.m. A limited number of single tickets remain for the annual "Blackout Game." Student tickets are $50 (two allowed per student) and general public tickets are $65. Tickets can be purchased at hawkeyesports.com, by calling 1-800-IA-HAWKS, or in person at the UI athletics ticket office in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.