THE IOWA Hawkeyes, which will face Ohio State Saturday, are among the top 10 in defense in the nation and "real stout, real firm against the run," according to Buckeye head football coach Urban Meyer.
"I believe they have not given up a rushing touchdown. ... I can see that they are very good. So just a big game," Meyer added.
Both teams are coming off a bye week so not only are they rested, but they've had an opportunity for more practices.
"We've been in here for two weeks trying to figure out how to run the ball against this defense. They are Top 10 in scoring defense or I think Top 10 in rushing defense and very good players," Meyer said.
Everett Withers, Buckeye assistant head coach/co-defensive coordinator/safeties, pointed out OSU's "No. 1 objective is to stop the run and if a team can't run it on you, and they can throw it on you, you know, as long as you're tackling, as long as you are triggering and tackling, you're going to be OK. We have got to shore up and tackle. That's what we're working on, trigger and tackle."
Withers added that he has known Iowa defensive coordinator Greg Davis for 20-some years, and Davis favors a zone run game.
"So that's what he does and it doesn't change and it hasn't changed. So we have to stop the run, the zone run game," Withers said. "We have backs that are capable, hard runners, tough physical offensive line."
As to why Iowa's run defense is so tough, Hawkeye head coach Kirk Ferentz said, "It's a group effort. One thing I mentioned earlier is the fact that we're a little saltier up front. We weren't very salty last year. We're a little bit better there now.
"Our linebackers are playing better because of that. ... But it's a combination of things. You can't just do it just with the front seven. Our DBs are doing a good job of containing where they have to, and then we've had guys come up and support and make tackles, too. It's everybody doing a good job."
Stan Drayton, OSU assistant head coach/offense/running backs, said the Hawkeyes do a "phenomenal job of playing great discipline defense. We know where they are going to get lined up, but we are going to have to be very, very smart on running our receivers through their zones because they are a very physical football team."
Drayton countered a question with a query when asked what OSU is doing best on offense now as they're halfway through the season.
He replied, "Does it have to be a football answer necessarily? I tell you what we are doing a great job of is trusting each other. ... There is not a selfish bone that has been exposed to us as coaches and to each other as teammates. "
Ohio State's impressive record of having the nation's longest winning streak at 18 games doesn't concern coaches on either team as much as the present.
Ferentz noted the Buckeyes' long streak of wins isn't mentioned so much around the Hawkeyes' locker room. "To me, the one streak that's impressive right now is they're undefeated. They're fourth in the country. You don't fall into that. They've got a really good team, and they're playing really well. That may be as impressive as anything," said the Iowa coach.
Withers indicated he doesn't think there's pressure to maintain the record as such. "I think every game is its own entity, and you go in and you work on every single game and not look at what's happened in the past. You work on the next one."
The two men apparently have the same thoughts about football as poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow when he wrote about life:
"Let the dead Past bury its dead!
"Act,-act in the living Present!"
Junior running back Mark Weisman leads the Hawkeyes and is third in the Big Ten with 104.0 yards per game with three touchdowns. He is described as tough kid and a tough runner, and Withers went into detail about what the Buckeyes will have to do to stop him.
Weisman is listed as probable for Saturday's game after missing much of Iowa's loss to Michigan State two weeks ago because of a foot injury.
Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock, a sophomore, has completed 60.3 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and six interceptions. Described as his favorite target is junior wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Maley, who has 26 catches for 225 yards and one TD.
The Hawkeyes are 4-2 and 1-1 with wins over Missouri State, 28-14; Iowa State, 27-21; Western Michigan, 59-3; and Minnesota, 23-7. Iowa lost its first game of the season to Northern Illinois, 30-27. as well as its most recent game to Michigan State, 26-14.
OHIO STATE has been victorious in its last three games with Iowa and 11 of the last 12 overall.
THE BUCKEYES' 92nd homecoming game is scheduled Saturday. Court members are chosen based on their leadership qualities, spirit, integrity, and achievement through their contributions and involvement at OSU.
SATURDAY'S GAME, which will be televised by ABC (ESPN2 reverse mirror), will begin at 3:30 p.m.
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