Iowa Preview 2006 - Defense
Iowa Hawkeyes
Posted Aug 6, 2006

Iowa Hawkeyes Preview 2006 - Iowa Hawkeye Defense

What you need to know ... The strengths of last season are the concerns of this year, and vice versa. The Hawkeye D had to replace one of the nation's top lines, and now the front four should be among the best in the Big Ten. The 2005 linebacking corps was among the best in the country, and now big-time replacements are needed. The corners were strong last year and safety was the question mark, and now, you guessed it, the opposite is true. The run defense should be great even after losing all-star linebacker Chad Greenway and Abdul Hodge thanks to a big, quick, and very active front four that should be special over the next two seasons. The pass defense needs some tightening, but that might not happen for a while until the new corners get settled.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Edmond Miles, 68
Sacks: Ken Iwebema, 7
Interceptions: Adam Shada, 3

Star of the defense: Junior DE Ken Iwebema
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior CB Adam Shada
Unsung star on the rise: Junior LB Mike Klinkenborg
Best pro prospect: Iwebema
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Iwebema, 2) DE Bryan Mattison, 3) LB Edmond Miles
Strength of the defense: Defensive line
Weakness of the defense: Linebacker depth, cornerback

Defensive Line
The line was considered a big problem spot going into last season after losing a slew of productive all-stars, but there were whispers that things might not be so bad with several raw, talented prospects. Even the most hopeful Hawkeye fans couldn't have foreseen how good the front four was going to become with four rising superstars with all-star potential. Ken Iwebema got most of the press after turning into a pass rushing terror, while Bryan Mattison was almost as good on the other side. Matt Kroul and Mitch King bulked up in a big hurry going from big linebackers the quick tackles in a year. Everyone can get into the backfield and everyone can stop the run with the ends bigger than the tackles.
The key to the unit: Hope for all the young stars to take another step up in their production while getting a bit more out of the backups.
Defensive Line Rating: 8.5

Projected Starters
- DE Ken Iwebema, Jr. - 48 tackles, 7 sacks, 10 TFL
The athletic junior turned in an All-Big Ten season as one of the league's top pass rushers. He's a tackle-sized 6-4 and 270 pounds bulking up from the 246 pounds he started at last year. He's quick and very consistent both at getting into the backfield and against the run.

- DT Matt Kroul, Soph. - 48 tackles, 2 sacks, 4.5 TFL, 1 interception
Kroul went from being a 256-pound puffed up linebacker to a 271-pound run stuffing rock on the inside. He's an all-star waiting to happen able to do a little bit of everything well. He grew into a good interior pass rusher as well as a stunningly good run defender.

- DT Mitch King, Soph. - 60 tackles, 2 sacks, 10.5 TFL, 3 broken up passes, 3 forced fumbles
King earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors after becoming a dominant pass rusher on the inside and leading the line in tackles. He's not huge at 264 pounds, but he's bigger. The former linebacker showed how his quickness was more than enough to get the job done. Expect even better stats this season with all the talent around him getting better.

- DE Bryan Mattison, Jr. - 46 tackles, 4 sacks, 9.5 TFL, 5 quarterback hurries
While he didn't receive the accolades Ken Iwebema did on the other side, Mattison was almost as productive. He has gotten bigger and bigger over the last few seasons getting up to 272 pounds and now should garner some All-Big Ten recognition of his own. He has been known as a dangerous pass rusher while growing into a steady run defender.

Top Backups
- DT Ryan Bain, Soph. - 21 tackles, 4 sacks, 3.5 TFL
Bain had a great true freshman season leading the interior in sacks while looking like a veteran against the run. At 282 pounds he's the biggest option in the middle and has to be even more of a factor against the bigger power running teams.
- DE Alex Kanellis, Soph. - 9 tackles, 2 sacks
A star high school performer and the Iowa high school player of the year in 2004, Kanellis saw a little bit of time as a true freshman and showed off a little bit of his pass rushing potential. He'll start out playing behind Ken Iwebema and should be even stronger against the run after bulking up to 281 pounds.

You don't lose 314 tackles from players like Abdul Hodge and Chad Greenway and not take a big step backwards. Edmond Miles is a good defender to build around with the experience and playmaking ability to be the leader of the corps. Mike Klinkenborg will ease the loss of Hodge in the middle and should quickly grow into one of the team's top tacklers. The biggest drop-off is on the weakside where Mike Humpal is fast and good, but he's not Greenway. There's almost no developed depth; things will quickly go downhill if there are injury problems.
The key to the unit: Mike Klinkenborg and Mike Humpal don't have to play like top NFL prospects, but they have to be more than just adequate.
Linebacker Rating: 6.5

Projected Starters
- Edmond Miles, Sr. - 68 tackles, 1 sack, 9 TFL, 7 quarterback hurries
A huge hitter who was always overshadowed by Chad Greenway and Abdul Hodge, Miles was a big producer as well as more of a pass rusher than the two former Hawkeyes stars while also finishing third on the teak in tackles. He's the only returning starter to the linebacking corps and will have to be the leader from his spot on the outside.

- Mike Klinkenborg, Jr. - 11 tackles
While he's not going to be Abdul Hodge in the middle, the 240-pound junior is tough and athletic enough to be one of the team's leading tacklers. He's an academic All-American who'll have few problems with his familiarity of the defense. He's a natural enough pass rusher to be disruptive in the backfield.

- Mike Humpal, Jr. - 24 tackles, 2 broken up passes
The 232-pound junior has to replace All-Everything Chad Greenway on the weakside and has the talent to put up big numbers. While he's nowhere near the athlete Greenway is, he's very fast and should be great in pass coverage. Staying healthy has been his problem so far. If he can stay on the field, he'll be one of the team's top tacklers.

Top Backups
- Zach Gabelmann, Sr. - 17 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 broken up pass
A top special teamer last season, Gabelmann is also the only backup linebacker with any experience. He's a hard-nosed hitter who fits in the middle and possible the strongside.
- Pat Angerer, RFr.
It'll be trial by fire for the 222-pound redshirt freshman. He'll see time on the weakside behind Mike Humpal and needs to get his feet wet to give the defense more options. If he can shine right away, Humpal might be used elsewhere if there are injury issues.

Defensive Backs
The Iowa secondary regressed after a good 2004 and should take another dip in production after losing Antwan Allen and Jovon Johnson. The safeties will be solid with Marcus Paschal and Miguel Merrick as good a pair as any in the Big Ten, so the attention will be on the corners where promising junior Adam Shada has to shine from the start and safety Charles Godfrey has to fit into an outside role. There are good prospects among the backups but there's not a lot of experience.
The key to the unit: Tread water early on until the corners figure out what they're doing.
Secondary Rating: 6.5

Projected Starters
- CB Adam Shada, Jr. - 22 tackles, 3 interceptions, 5 broken up passes
A big corner who has been in the mix from day one, Shada is 6-1 and 185 pounds with excellent quickness and enough experience to make up for the loss of Jovon Johnson. He tied for the team lead in interceptions and should take advantage of teams throwing his way to avoid Charles Godfrey.

- FS Marcus Paschal, Sr. - 62 tackles, 6 broken up passes
Paschal made a tremendous return from a torn ACL to become an honorable mention All-Big Ten playmaker finishing fifth on the team in tackles. He's a great hitter and a smart leader of the defensive secondary. Now that he's more than a year removed from the injury, he should show even more range and be an even bigger all-around playmaker.

- SS Miguel Merrick, Sr. - 59 tackles, 1 interception, 2 sacks, 4 broken up passes
The 203-pound senior is an All-Big Ten caliber performer against the run, but he isn't the best pass defender around. Even so, he's a strong leader whose consistency and big hits make him one of the tone-setting stars of the defense.

- CB Charles Godfrey, Jr. - 35 tackles, 1 forced fumble
The former free safety will move to corner where his experience will have to shine through right away as a top shut down defender. He's a great tackler with excellent size at 6-1 and 208 pounds. He might hit like a safety, but the jury is still out on if he can cover like a corner. There's a chance he could move back to safety early on.

Top Backups
- CB Bradley Fletcher, Soph. - 1 tackle
A great-sized corner at 6-2 and 195 pounds, the ultra-quick Fletcher could turn out to be one of the keys to the secondary. His emergence would allow Charles Godfrey to spend more time at safety rather than stick at right corner.
- SS Devan Moylan, Sr. - 13 tackles
The former JUCO transfer saw time in every game and should be a reliable reserve behind Miguel Merrick. While not the tackler Merrick is, he's faster.
- CB Ma'Quan Dawkins, Sr. - 2 tackles
The 5-9, 166-pound walk-on has been a special teamer and an occasional nickel back for the last three seasons. He'll start out as a backup on the left side behind Adam Shada but will have a hard time getting on the field with freshman Justin Edwards looking ready for playing time.

Special Teams
As always, Iowa's kickers will be fantastic with Kyle Schlicher on the Lou Groza Award short list and punter Andy Fenstermaker sure to receiver a little bit of all-star recognition if he can get a little more blast on his kicks. The nation's 15th best punt return game needs to replace the 17.4-yard average of Jovon Johnson with the speed of Herb Grigsby, who returned two punts last season for 11 yards. The kickoff returns are the sore spot after finishing 117th in the country averaging a woeful 16.2 yards per return. Shonn Greene and Albert Young will try to boost the production.
The key to the unit: Much more pop is needed on kickoff returns while PK Kyle Schlicher and P Andy Fenstermaker need a little more distance on their kicks to go along with their tremendous accuracy on short to midrange shots.
Special Teams Rating: 7.5

Projected Starters
- PK Kyle Schlicher, Sr. - 17-21 FGs, 43-44 extra points
One of the best kickers in America returns after being all but automatic inside 40 yards. While he has a good leg with a 52-yard shot against Ohio State to his credit, his consistency tops out at the 40 missing two kicks from 41 and one from 47. His only miss inside the 40 came in the bowl game.
- P Andy Fenstermaker, Sr. - 49 punts, 1,885 yds, 38.5 yards per kick, 21 inside the 20
The net average won't make anyone's eyes pop out, but that's because Festermaker put everything inside the 20. He also did a great job of preventing returns forcing 18 fair catches.

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Iowa Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
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Iowa Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
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