The Hawkeyes survived a barnburner against South Dakota State in their season opener 7-3.

The seven points coming on two safeties and a field goal. Just how they drew it up, right? The unit outscored both their own offense, and South Dakota State.

The visitors could only muster 120 yards of offense and never saw a drive reach the 20 yard line. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz was disappointed with some areas of his team’s performance, but the defense was not one of them.

“They did what they had to do, kept them pinned up and made them play a long field. so that in combination with the kicking game was really a positive today and a lot of really good efforts,” Ferentz said.

Middle linebacker Jack Campbell lived up to his billing as preseason defensive player of the year. He led the way with 11 tackles and the safety that broke the 3-3 tie in the third quarter.

“We want to be the group that just continues to play Coach Parker defense, year in and year out and nothing fancy. Campbell said. “Just a lot of effort and a great attitude no matter where we’re at on the field to start with.”

Defensive back Quinn Schulte made his first career start on Saturday. It was his best performance as a Hawkeye, with a game-high four passes defended. He had one in 14 games over the past two seasons. As a new major piece to the puzzle, he credited the coaching staff for setting him up in the right spots.

“Coach Parker and Coach Wallace and Bell put together a good game plan, first game of the season, we don’t necessarily know what they’re gonna come out and run,” the junior said.

Cornerback Terry Roberts was yet another shining star for the unit. He knocked down a pair of passes and made several plays on special teams.

“Defense stepped up, we put a couple fires out, D-line got pressure, defensive back and we stayed over top, we made plays, but we’ve still got a lot more work to do,” Roberts said.

While the defense got the job done for the Hawkeyes and they got the win, they hope to score more of those seven-pointers, just in the form of touchdowns. The next opportunity comes next week against Iowa State back at Kinnick Stadium. Until then, Iowa is 1-0.

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Defensive end Joe Evans #13 of the Iowa Hawkeyes signals a safety after sacking the quarterback in the end zone during the second half against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits at Kinnick Stadium on September 03, 2022 in Iowa City, Iowa. (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)