IOWA CITY — In a career-best game at Iowa, one that seemed to signal his arrival as a preeminent defensive lineman in the Big Ten Conference, Daviyon Nixon was not satisfied. Or remotely pleased.
“It wasn’t enough,” he said Saturday, after the Hawkeyes’ 21-20 loss to Northwestern at Kinnick Stadium. “Just wasn’t enough. If we don’t get the win, I never feel like I did enough from a defensive standpoint.”
He did a ton from a defensive standpoint, that’s for sure. Nixon was a disruptive force deluxe, finishing with 11 tackles, second to linebacker Seth Benson on the team.
His six solos included three for loss, 1.5 sacks. Throw in a forced fumble, and the 305-pounder from Kenosha, Wis., was really, really good.
One sequence early in the third quarter stuck out. Northwestern had a first-and-10 on its 30-yard line, when Nixon sacked quarterback Peyton Ramsey for an 11-yard loss despite appearing to be held by a Wildcats lineman.
Two plays later, on third-and-20, he tripped up running back Drake Anderson on a sweep for a loss of 6. Those two plays showed strength and quickness, in that order.
“Daviyon is a good player,” Benson said. “He brings energy each and every day, every practice, every game. He sparks a fire in us. When he gets back there into the backfield, it really helps us out. When he’s playing blocks, he keeps offensive linemen off of us, allows us to make plays.”
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This is the player everyone thought Iowa was getting when it successfully recruited Nixon out of Iowa Western Community College three years ago. He redshirted in 2018 in part to get his academics in order, ended up in the transfer portal the following summer but came back to Iowa City despite getting an offer from Alabama.
He was a backup last season but has ascended into the starting lineup this season and apparently into a potentially big-time player. One that is getting a lot of attention from opposing offenses.
“I did get double teamed a lot this game,” Nixon said. “But it’s something I’m used to now. Growing up with my stature, my size, I’m always getting double teamed, you know? Back in high school, teams would watch film and change game plans because of me. But I’ve still got to be as productive as possible.”
One other indelible Nixon moment from Saturday. Late in the game, he could be seen gesturing heavily in the defensive huddle during a timeout before a third-and-13 play for Northwestern that would determine if Iowa would force a punt and get the ball back to its offense for one last shot.
He was asked what his message was to his teammates.
“That we’ve got to finish,” he said. “It’s a family thing, and if we all come out there together, even on the sideline, we’ve got to stay together on the sideline as a unit, stay together as a team. We’ve got to finish. I need everybody to participate, I need everybody hyped up, I need all the juice on the sidelines, in the stands, anybody that’s out there. We all came here for a reason, and that’s just to get the job done.”
Daviyon Nixon got the job done Saturday, at least his.
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