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IOWA CITY — Josey Jewell isn’t much of a talker. “The Outlaw,” as he’s called, is more of a doer.
No. 10 Iowa’s middle linebacker didn’t get to do much in Week 1 against Miami (Ohio), given he was ejected for a helmet-to-helmet hit just a handful of plays into that game. He was asked about the hit Tuesday, and didn’t have a ton to say other than he wanted to move on and get back to playing football.
In the Hawkeyes’ 42-3 drubbing of Iowa State, Jewell did plenty. A team-leading nine tackles, one tackle for loss and a quarterback hit later, Jewell had an emphatic period on his first full game of the season.
“I was just trying to move on from last week and get some playing time in. I was really hungry for this game and ready for this game all week,” Jewell said. “I played all right — a lot of things to work on; a lot of small detail things to work on. I know I can improve in a lot of areas after this game.”
Jewell’s return, and how he’d play wasn’t something worrisome for anyone in the Iowa locker room.
The Decorah native isn’t a needy kind of player, after all. His intensity is obvious on the field, and his matter-of-fact approach to everything off the field means Coach Kirk Ferentz and Co. didn’t have to sweat whether or not Jewell would be in the right state of mind for the Hawkeyes (2-0) against the Cyclones (0-2).
“You don’t have to give Josey a lot of guidance,” Ferentz said. “I don’t think anybody said a word to Josey. He was upset with himself because he couldn’t play. That’s what you work for is a chance to play on the game field. He didn’t get that opportunity, but he was right back with us; back to normal on Sunday. He’s a guy you can count on what you’re going to get each and every week with him.”
Obviously Jewell is a valuable piece for the Hawkeyes defense, and having him on the field made an evident impact in the run game.
In Week 1 against Miami (Ohio), the Iowa defense gave up 158 yards rushing and one touchdown on the ground. Ferentz and everyone on the defense talked about shoring up the run game against Iowa State. When the game was still in doubt, the Hawkeyes had clamped down on a Cyclone run game that featured a talented back in Mike Warren. Through three quarters — the Hawkeyes pulled their starters not long into the fourth — Iowa held Iowa State to just 84 yards rushing. The Cyclones finished with 126 yards on the ground.
To ask his teammates, credit much of that to Jewell. The majority of his nine tackles came against the run. Yes, he clogged the middle as an individual, but having him out there as the defensive field general is invaluable.
“It’s Josey. That’s what he’s going to do. He’s going to go out there and play 100 percent, every game, every down and every play. That’s the side of Josey. That’s why he’s one of our top leaders,” said defensive back Desmond King. “It was really important to have Josey back out there stopping the run for us and keeping everybody on the same page, having everybody in the same call; making sure no one is out there confused.”
Jewell is one of the key players Iowa will rely on throughout the course of this season. The three-year starter is one who will be leaned on heavily to bring the kind of performance he did Saturday if the Hawkeyes want to have another special season.
The hit and ejection in Week 1 is a thing of the past, but if nothing else, it was a reminder that every snap is a valuable one when a player is that important to a defense.
That importance has been clear to his coaches dating back to his freshman year and the (forgettable) 2014 TaxSlayer Bowl. He’s The Outlaw. He’s a doer. The Hawkeyes have counted on him, and will count on him to do plenty more.
“My Kodak moment with Josey goes back to our bowl game two years ago where we weren’t playing very well and the game was pretty much out of question in the second half,” Ferentz said. “The effort and tenacity that he played with in that game are the things that indicate, ‘Hey, this guy’s for real.’ He showed that last year. We expect nothing less from him. That’s the way he is on a day-to-day basis.”
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