Mattison Sparks Iowa Defense

Oct. 23, 2006

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Bryan Mattison was stoked. Mom and Dad were in the “Big House,” the Hawkeyes were playing No. 2 ranked Michigan, and – like his teammates – the junior defensive end was ready to make a statement.

They did.

Iowa’s defense went toe-to-toe with the mighty Michigan Wolverines for three-plus quarters of smash-mouth Big Ten Conference football Saturday in Ann Arbor, Mich. And, while the final score – 20-6 Michigan – admittedly gives the immediate impression of “no contest,” those in attendance and those on the playing field know much differently.

And, for Mattison and the Hawkeye defensive unit, it might just mean that they’ve turned a corner: Iowa didn’t offer the home team a first down until late in the first quarter, denied the Wolverines access to the end zone until the second half, and held the UM’s vaunted rushing attack to just seven yards in the first 30 minutes of play.

They did it the Iowa Hawkeye way: By being just as physical – if not more so – than their opponent.

Mattison was instrumental to the Hawkeyes’ success. He was credited with five tackles and collected a pair sacks, one a 14-yarder that crushed a Wolverine drive so much so that Michigan was forced to punt versus attempting a field goal.

Fans of the Hawkeyes are reminded that Saturday’s game against Northern Illinois at historic Kinnick Stadium has been designated Blackout Saturday. Wear black to the game to show your support for the Hawkeyes!

“We worked hard on that all week,” Mattison said about Iowa’s desire to attack and put pressure on the quarterback. “I think our defense really took a step forward today.”

Mattison leads Big Ten defenders in forced fumbles with four. He’s made 34 tackles already this season, a mark that includes 8.5 for loss. He will undoubtedly finish 2006 with career highs in both categories.

“He kept his feet working,” UI Coach Kirk Ferentz said about his defensive end’s play against the Wolverines. “He’s not only a good football player, he’s a leaders. Bryan gives everything he’s got all the time.”

Only a junior, it’s clear the 6-3, 272-pound product of Mishawaka, Ind., continues to get better and better and will need to again this week with yet another of the nation’s top running backs coming to Kinnick Stadium on Saturday when Iowa entertains Northern Illinois.

“We go back to work for yet another test,” Mattison said shortly after last week’s game in Michigan and before he had a chance to visit with his mother, Ann, and his father, Greg, the defensive coordinator for the Florida Gators.

“We just keep pushing forward,” he added.

Just like a good pass rush.