It was pretty easy to see the biggest area of improvement for Iowa on Saturday in an impressive 27-17 victory over Arizona: The Hawkeyes’ defensive line, especially end Adrian Clayborn, played much better than it did in the first two games of the season.
The other two layers of the defense – the linebackers and secondary – were solid (and occasionally spectacular) in the first two games of the season and the line also came together in a fairly thorough shutdown of what had been a pretty good offense.
The statistics don’t really tell how well the D-line played although the stats weren’t bad. The Hawkeyes had two sacks, five tackles for losses and four quarterback hurries (three by Clayborn). They’d had only two sacks in the first two games against less talented, more pass-oriented teams.
They also allowed 148 yards rushing (about half Arizona’s season average), with almost none of it coming between the tackles. Most of it came on three plays – a reverse, a quarterback scramble and a draw play in the final minutes against a prevent defense.
All told, it was an important step forward for an area of the team that had to be retooled following the graduations of Mitch King and Matt Kroul.