116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Josey Jewell led the charge. Josh Jackson sprinkled in some thrill. Ben Niemann probably earned a cool nickname like 'The Eradicator.'
Jake Gervase might've earned rookie of the game. Or maybe Michael Ojemudia stepped in front of both and picked off that honor during Iowa's 24-3 victory Saturday over Wyoming.
Iowa's defense had a lot of oars in the water against Cowboys quarterback Josh Allen. How does that all come together?
One word: Trust.
'As a linebacker, you have to understand who's around you,' said Jewell, a senior linebacker. 'You have to understand what they're able to do and what they can't do.'
Jewell gave hard-core football examples of how Iowa's defense meshed against Wyoming. That's just the way he sees the game. It's assignments and alignments.
And then he dug down to the human element.
'It's the trust in them now,' he said. 'I think we all trust each other a little more this year. Another year under your belt, that helps with the trust.'
The most concrete example of trust on the field came in the first half. Jewell started a play in coverage. He noticed Allen creep toward the line of scrimmage. Jewell was able to leave his coverage because he knew someone would cover for him.
'I saw him break the pocket, somebody else picked up my coverage,' Jewell said. 'That allowed me to run. I was tracking him inside-out. I was trying to hit him on the outside shoulder and make him comeback in.'
The trust factor allowed plays like that. It allowed the Hawkeyes to play fast, disrupt and kept the lid on a probable future first-round NFL draft pick.
And Allen is certainly that. There were 11 NFL scouts in the Kinnick press box. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said 'first-rounder' during his postgame.
Iowa was vulnerable in the secondary. Ojemudia started at cornerback for Manny Rugamba (served a one-week suspension). Gervase made his first start at safety. He was given a promotion this spring when starter Brandon Snyder suffered a torn ACL. Jackson made his first start at corner and picked off his first career interception.
The Hawkeyes intercepted Allen twice (defensive tackle Brady Reiff got the other on a failed screen pass). They broke up three passes, collected 3.0 sacks and recorded four hurries.
Ferentz said this about Gervase, but it could've stood for everyone on Iowa's defense Saturday.
'That's the beauty of team football,' Ferentz said. 'When somebody goes down, hopefully the next guy has been working hard to have that opportunity and take it and run with it. You never play perfect, but we're playing against a quarterback that's really dangerous, and that back end held up well today.'
The Cowboys tried again and again to attack Iowa on the perimeter. Niemann recorded a career-high 13 tackles from his outside linebacker spot. Linebacker Bo Bower (11) and safety Miles Taylor (8) tied their career highs for tackles.
'It was a lot of fun, flying around just playing fast, physical football,' Niemann said. 'We wanted to get back out here and prove ourselves.'
Let's ask Allen how Iowa's defense did.
'They are really good,' said Allen, who completed 23 of 40 for 174 yards and two interceptions. 'They held us to three points. I'm not sure of the exact stats, but I'm sure it's not pretty. They're a good defensive program and this is what we expected from them.'
l Comments: (319) 398-8256; firstname.lastname@example.org