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Rebuilt D-line zeroes in on Jantz

[ 0 ] September 3, 2012 |

The rebuilt Iowa defensive line doesn’t have much time to savor its debut against Northern Illinois.

Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz is coming to town. Complete with red cape, spitcurl and booties.

“Obviously, Iowa State is looking at our game film,” junior defensive end Dominic Alvis said. “Obviously, they see some things we need to work on. We know that.

“We can’t have that slow start against Iowa State. We have to come out humping next week.”

Last fall in Jack Trice Stadium, Jantz looked like everybody’s All-American leading the Cyclones to a 44-41 triple overtime victory.

Jantz did his most amazing work on third-and-long. He confounded the Iowa defensive line, staying out of their grasp and picked up one key conversion after another.

Jantz was 3-for-4 converting third-and-long with his legs and 4-for-6 with his arm, including a 40-yard completion on third-and-20.

That’s 7-for-10 on third downs of 5 yards or longer.

Fast forward to Saturday. Northern Illinois junior quarterback Jordan Lynch, making his first start, ran for 119 yards on 18 carries, including a 73-yard touchdown run.

But Iowa buckled down after that big run, stopping the next five NIU drives.

“No. 6 was hurting us,” Alvis said. “We had to play our base defense, and do what we have to do. Stop No. 6.”

Over those final five drives, Alvis had a sack and a tackle for loss, senior defensive end Joe Gaglione had a tackle for loss, and sophomore defensive tackle Louis Trinca-Pasat had a tackle for loss.

“Just being out on the field in front of Hawk fans was great, getting the sack was a cherry on the top,” said Alvis, who missed the final four games last year with an injury. “You can’t ask for much more than that.”

It was a great feeling for Alvis and the D-line, which prognosticators said would be a big weak spot for Iowa.

“We know all that,” Gaglione said. “The biggest thing we want to do is establish an identity for ourselves. Make sure we make an impact when we’re out there.”

Iowa defensive linemen had 39.5 tackles for loss last season (3.0 per game). But 34.5 of those TFLs graduated.

The rebuilt Hawkeye D-line had 5.0 TFL on Saturday.

“We’re a young unit, but I’d say we’ve all made strides based on where we came from,” sophomore defensive tackle Darian Cooper said.

Now fast-forward again to Saturday and the daunting task of containing Jantz.

Jantz was 32-of-45 for 281 yards in a 38-23 win over Tulsa on Saturday. He threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third. He made plays with his legs but also was sacked four times.

Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads doesn’t see Jantz being able to repeat his 2011 success against Iowa.

“Based on how Tulsa bottled up Steele, teams will prepare for his scrambling ability and escape-ability. That part of the game you saw a year ago, I don’t think will be there.

“He’s not going to break contain; he’s not going to get out of that pocket and get to things like he did a year ago.”

Maybe, maybe not. But it’s a sure best, with a green Hawkeye defensive line, the Cyclone just might try it a time or two.

“Hopefully, when you get to the end of the line, … you’re prepared,” senior defensive end Steve Bigach said.

Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Ryan Suchomel: Reach Ryan Suchomel at 339-7368 or rsuchomel@press-citizen.com. View author profile.

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