The Iowa defense has traditionally been built on a strong defensive line. This year shouldn’t be any different, but there will certainly be some unproven players on the interior.
Iowa’s defensive line was one of the best in the Big Ten last season. It’s been a work in progress this offseason after losing all four starters.
“That was a real area of interest going into spring practice, I thought, because of the guys we graduated and the number of guys we graduated up front,” Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz said.
The most unproven of the group are senior tackles Cedrick Lattimore and Brady Reiff. Both players have had playing time the past two seasons, but neither were consistent enough to become a starter — until this offseason.
“People mature a little bit at different times,” Iowa Defensive Coordinator Phil Parker said. “They’ve been consistent and they’ve been very, very good for us up front.”
“They look like seniors are supposed to look and that’s reassuring,” Ferentz said. “You hope that’s gonna happen, but there’s no guarantees. We’ve witnessed that with both of those guys.”
The veteran tackles are expected to start on the inside of Chauncey Golston and A.J. Epenesa.
Parker says he does plan to use a rotation up front again this season, because he believes it benefits the entire unit.
“I think when you keep guys fresh, you got a better chance to play good defense because they can wear and tear on you,” Parker said. “Every single down they’re sitting there playing and they’re beating up on each other.”
The rotation is far from set, but Ferentz did point to a few candidates who could help to avoid the attirition in the trenches.
“Noah Shannon I thought really did a good job in the spring,” Ferentz said. “Dayivon looks good, he’s in good shape right now. It’s probably the best shape he’s been in, in his life. And then Austin Schulte is a guy that really emerged in spring practice. There’s no question that he’s a guy who will have a role this year for us.”
The Hawkeyes’ host Miami-Ohio in their season opener on August 31.
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