Iowa Hawkeyes’ Defense Historically Good So Far in 2022 [PHOTOS]
It all starts with defense. That statement has never been more true than with the 2022 Iowa Hawkeyes. A fantastic punter doesn't hurt either.
The Iowa defense shut down Rutgers Saturday night and turned two turnovers directly into touchdowns. The first was a pick-six by Cooper Dejean (#3), who made an over-the-head interception, with 5:26 left in the first quarter. It gave Iowa their first lead.
Marking his third straight game with an interception, Dejean weaved his way from the Rutgers 45-yard line to the end zone.
Iowa then celebrated the 50th interception return for a touchdown in program history.
Less than a quarter later, Kaevon Merriweather (#26) scooped up a Rutgers fumble at the 30-yard line and took it into the end zone. Monday morning, Merriweather was named Big Ten co-Defensive Player of the Week.
The Hawkeyes are now 3-1 on the season and the Iowa defense has allowed just 23 points, an average of 5.75 per game. That's the lowest point total allowed in the nation. In 1956, Iowa gave up 20 points in their first four games. These are the fewest points since that season. That's historical and if it continues, it's the stuff of legend.
In the first and third quarters combined this season, Iowa has outscored their opponents 43-3. Through the first four games of the season, Iowa has allowed the 6th fewest yards in the nation (945), an average of 236.2 per game.
Iowa punter Tory Taylor (#9) was named Special Teams Player of the Week for the second time this season. In addition to averaging 42.6 yards per punt against Rutgers, four of his five punts were downed inside the Rutgers 20. Finally, Rutgers had -2 yards in punt returns for the game.
Through four games, Taylor has punted 28 times for an average of 47.3 per kick. He has a dozen punts of at least 50 yards. Remarkably, 17 of his 28 punts have left the opposition starting with the ball inside the 20-yard line.
This weekend, a stiff challenge faces the Hawkeyes. The 4th-ranked Michigan Wolverines visit Kinnick Stadium. In games against Colorado State, Hawaii, Connecticut, and Maryland, Michigan has given up an average of 11 points per game, while the Wolverines have scored an average of 50.
The Michigan offense averages 156-yards rushing per contest. Blake Corum (#2) averages 119 yards per game on the ground.
Michigan's air attack is led by J.J. McCarthy (#9) who averages 173 yards passing per game and has thrown for 5 touchdowns.
The Wolverines' leading receiver is Ronnie Bell (#8). He has 17 catches on the season and averages 63 yards per game.
Michigan is a 10.5-point favorite at Kinnick Stadium Saturday for the 11 a.m. kickoff on Fox.
Iowa defensive coordinator Phil Parker (below) has a big task on his hands this weekend but he has the players to make things very difficult for the Michigan offense. Iowa's offense has to rise to the occasion this weekend as well.
It was announced today that Iowa's October 8 game at Illinois will kick off at 6:30 p.m. The game will be televised by Big Ten Network.