Aug. 10, 2012
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — After nine practices, the challenge for assistant coach Reese Morgan and the University of Iowa defensive line is consistent improvement.
Typical of most young and inexperienced position groups, the Hawkeyes have run into their share of highs and lows with the defensive line during the past week. Morgan was thrilled with the effort and performance Wednesday when the Big Ten Network came to town; not so much Friday after the first of two practices inside Kinnick Stadium.
“The big thing we want to do is improve and do it consistently on a daily basis,” said Morgan, following the morning practice Friday. “We need to continue to work to trust our technique, believe in it, and regardless of youth and experience, we have to move forward.”
The return of sophomore left tackle Carl Davis (6-foot-5, 310 pounds) and junior right end Dominic Alvis (6-4, 265) from injury, has added quality depth to the line. Morgan said Davis and Alvis are spending the first week of camp getting re-acclimated to life on the gridiron.
“The big thing we want to do is improve and do it consistently on a daily basis. We need to continue to work to trust our technique, believe in it, and regardless of youth and experience, we have to move forward.”
UI defensive line coach
“They’re experienced and they know what’s going on,” Morgan said. “The tough thing for them is they have missed 15 spring practices, plus they’re coming off an injury. They’re not quite ready to go from a mental standpoint; now it becomes getting the rust off, starting to hone in on the fundamentals, and being a little more detailed with things.”
Ten student-athletes are listed on the depth chart for the four defensive line positions: seniors Steve Bigach and Joe Gaglione and freshman Riley McMinn at left end; Davis, freshman Darian Cooper and sophomore Mike Hardy at left tackle; sophomore Louis Trinca-Pasat and freshman Dean Tsopanides at right tackle; and Alvis and freshman Melvin Spears at right end.
“We have to rise to the occasion. We’re looking for certain things and we’re going to play the best players, regardless of where they’re at in the program,” Morgan said. “The key thing is to focus on the important things and those are the fundamentals from stance to alignment, keys coming off the football, and fundamentals — leverage is going to be critical in both the run and the pass.”
An added plus to the growth of the defensive line is that it goes head-to-head every practice against a solid Hawkeye offensive line.
“It’s going to be as close to game-like as we can simulate,” Morgan said. “If we can produce and go against our guys and work our technique and be successful, then it becomes a positive experience.”
Last season Iowa was seventh in the Big Ten in rushing defense, allowing 156 yards per game, eighth in total defense (378.9 yards a game) and eighth in scoring defense (23.8 points per game).
The Hawkeyes return to the practice field Friday afternoon for their 10th workout of camp. The team will stage its annual “Kids Day at Kinnick” on Saturday, Aug. 11. Gates to Kinnick Stadium open at 11 a.m. (CT) with the team’s practice scheduled to begin at noon. Iowa’s 2012 Kids Day is presented by UI Children’s Hospital and Kohl’s Keeping Kids Safe.