Clayborn, Defense Make a Point

Sept. 19, 2009

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Hey, Hawk fans. Do you see a trend developing? If you don’t, look a little closer. The University of Iowa appears to have another very, very solid defensive unit.

Iowa’s defenders did exactly that Saturday at historic Kinnick Stadium. Before another sellout crowd on “Blackout Saturday,” the Hawkeyes dealt a very good and very explosive Arizona football team a 27-17 defeat thanks in great measure to a defensive unit that was stout…in capital letters.

The win pushed Iowa to a perfect 3-0 in 2009 and sets up what we’ll be a big-time-hyped Big Ten Conference season opener at Penn State next Saturday. That game – against an undefeated and nationally ranked Nittany Lion squad – will be televised live by ABC to a national audience in its prime time slot: 7 p.m. Iowa time.

However, first things first. Kirk Ferentz’s squad remained unbeaten because of a defense that didn’t give early and took away late. The visiting team had seven yards of offense after the first 15 minutes.

In the second quarter, UI cornerback Amari Spievey hauled down UA’s shifty and speedy running back Nic Grigsby after a 58-yard run that gave the Wildcats first and goal on the two. The visitors limped off four plays later with just a field goal after the Arizona offense lost two on a rush and threw a pair of hurried misses.

In the third quarter, Norm Parker’s squad turned offensive and began making life miserable for Arizona’s sophomore signal caller Matt Scott, who eventually folded under the relentless pressure, tossing a pick to Iowa’s Willie Mays, centerfielder/safety Tyler Sash.

The interceptions, Sash’s fourth in the last two games and fifth this fall, resulted in a 40-yard field goal that pushed Iowa’s lead to an insurmountable 20-10 early in the final 15 minutes.

“Take the points and put it on this Iowa defense. They’re up to the task,” said Gary Dolphin, the radio voice of the Iowa Hawkeyes, when Iowa passed on a 4-and-1 on the three, opting instead for a 20-yard field goal that gave the home team a 17-10 lead late in the third quarter.

Adrian Clayborn and this Iowa defense played just some kind of football game,” Ed Podolak said late in the victory. Clayborn pretty much lived in the Arizona backfield in the final 30 minutes when Iowa was staking claim to victory. He was credited with six tackles, one quarterback sack, one tackle for loss and a forced fumble.

Not a bad day’s work.

“We had something to prove. We wanted to show our defensive teammates that we could contribute at a higher level than what we had shown in the firs t two games. I think we did, we had a good day,” said the 6-foot-3, 280-pound junior from St. Louis.

The line and Iowa’s defense proved they were more than up to the task. They limited Arizona to just 253 yards of offense and a touchdown that didn’t matter to anyone except them – no defense likes to give up touchdowns anytime, anywhere.

“We have played okay on defense going into this game. Just can’t say we have been real thrilled. You know, with us, early season tends to be that way in general,” added Ferentz.

“I think we are all a little disappointed maybe that we weren’t playing better but I thought this week we practiced better, and I thought certainly today we looked a little bit more like what we hoped to see out of an Iowa defense. It starts up front, when our guys are playing well up front that really helps us.”