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.
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
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
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
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
Defensive Line Rating: 8.5
- 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
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
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.
- 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
Linebacker Rating: 6.5
- Edmond Miles, Sr. - 68 tackles, 1 sack, 9 TFL, 7
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.
- 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.
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
The key to the unit: Tread water early on until the
corners figure out what they're doing.
Secondary Rating: 6.5
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
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
- 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
- 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.