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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Ho-hum will have to take a hike this week for the University of Iowa defensive line, and junior Dominic Alvis appears ready to lead the charge.
Alvis prepped at Logan-Magnolia High School in western Iowa, which is more than 100 miles closer to Ames than it is to Iowa City. A majority of his friends attend college at Iowa State.
“They are always giving me a hard time for playing at Iowa,” Alvis said. “It’s playful, but it adds to the rivalry.”
He is, of course, referencing the Iowa-Iowa State football rivalry. The Hawkeyes (1-0) and Cyclones (1-0) battle for the 60th time Saturday with a 2:42 p.m. (CT) kickoff from Kinnick Stadium. Iowa is 23-12 in games played in Iowa City.
“We always like to play on our home field. It’s a huge advantage playing in Kinnick with our awesome fans,” Alvis said.
One of the first Hawkeyes UI head coach Kirk Ferentz complimented after an 18-17 season-opening win against Northern Illinois was Alvis, who had three tackles, two tackles for a loss, and a quarterback sack.
“He had a camp where he was laboring, not 100 percent and looked tired at times,” Ferentz said. “He found an extra gear (against Northern Illinois), and not only played well, but he gave that group some leadership. We’re not veteran up front, so that is as paramount as anything.”
“It starts in practice, and it starts today. We practice today and Wednesday like we’re going to play Saturday, and have a great mental day Thursday — that is going to be the key. It’s a huge deal what we do during the week.”
UI defensive end
Iowa’s defense limited Northern Illinois to 68 yards on 25 plays in the second half last week, an average of 2.7 yards per snap. Over the final 15 minutes, the Huskies managed six yards on 12 plays. Alvis knows the Hawkeye defense needs to be stingy from the onset Saturday.
“We had to regroup in the locker room at halftime (last week),” he said. “Then we came out firing on all cylinders. We came out with a lot more energy.”
Last season Alvis compiled 30 tackles (3 ½ for a loss) with a pass breakup and forced fumble before he was sidelined with an ACL injury in the ninth game against Michigan. Alvis had two solo tackles last season against Iowa State, and he saw firsthand the elusiveness of Cyclone quarterback Steele Jantz.
“He can run and pass and that’s always difficult as a defensive lineman,” Alvis said. “So playing your contain assignment, as well as trying to get to the quarterback, is a difficult challenge.”
During a 38-23 win last week against Tulsa, Jantz threw for 281 yards and ran the ball 13 times. Alvis said the Hawkeyes can’t get off to a `ho-hum’ start like they did in Soldier Field against the Huskies. Rectifying that begins Tuesday afternoon.
“It starts in practice, and it starts today,” he said. “We practice today and Wednesday like we’re going to play Saturday, and have a great mental day Thursday — that is going to be the key. It’s a huge deal what we do during the week.”
Iowa State has possession of the Cy-Hawk Trophy after last year’s 44-41 triple overtime win in Ames. In that game, Jantz passed for a career-high 279 yards and four touchdowns, and rushed 16 times for 42 yards.
“I can tell you, it’s one of the worst feelings you can get in football,” Alvis said of the loss in 2011. “It feels awesome to win them, and it feels terrible to lose them.”
Alvis said the Iowa team looks forward to the rivalry and he is honored to be a part of the series.
“We’re huge competitors over here, as are they,” Alvis said. “It’s a trophy game and it’s a lot of excitement.”