IOWA CITY — The pronunciation of his first name is JYE-mun.
Iowa football fans got to know a lot more about Djimon Colbert in Saturday’s 13-3 win over Iowa State at Kinnick Stadium. The redshirt freshman from the suburbs of Kansas City got the start at weakside linebacker in place of Kristian Welch, who was out with an undislosed injury.
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said Welch actually worked out with the team Friday but didn’t practice all week, which led to the decision to give Colbert his first significant playing time. The kid did fine.
The entire inexperienced linebacking corps did just fine ... again.
“I kind of knew earlier in the week (I’d start),” Colbert said. “Kristian was kind of a day-to-day thing, so they just had me rep with the ones most of the week. We weren’t for sure until today. I just went in there and got the job done.”
Linebacker, of course, is the biggest question mark for this Iowa defense. It’s three new starters, the first time that’s happened during Ferentz’s 20-year tenure.
The starters last week against Northern Illinois were Amani Jones in the middle, Welch on the weakside and Nick Niemann outside. After being caught out of position early on a couple of plays, Jones was replaced by Jack Hockaday, who did well enough to earn the start Saturday.
Hockaday co-led Iowa with eight tackles here (with cornerback Matt Hankins), with Niemann adding seven and Colbert five. The Hawkeye defensive line was uber-disruptive the entire game, bottling up outstanding ISU running back David Montgomery and pestering (and eventually knocking out) Cyclones quarterback Kyle Kempt.
But those linemen tipped their collective helmets to the guys immediately behind them, too.
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“I thought we did a tremendous job as an entire defense,” said Iowa defensive end Parker Hesse. “It was a really smooth transition having new guys in there, new circumstances. They were on top of their thing, were making calls. Our fans were super loud when we were playing defense, so that’s a challenge. Especially for us, we’ve got our hands in the dirt, it’s hard to hear. They did a great job just communicating with us. We were on the same page, and that undoubtedly helped us play the way we did today.”
“That’s really pleasing to see,” Ferentz said. “Jack came back and played a good game today from where I was looking, and Djimon jumped in there and did a nice job. That was really good to see. I think we’ll continue to learn more about them as we go.”
If anything, it appears Iowa is developing some depth at the linebacker position.
“I just know we were prepared for the best we could be,” Colbert said. “All we did was swarm to the ball, wrapped up our tackles. That’s all it really came down to.”
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