Iowa 'D' Ready for New Challenge

Nov. 23, 2013

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa defense has faced an array of dual-threat quarterbacks in 2013 — Jordan Lynch, Braxton Miller and Kain Colter — and the Hawkeyes say today’s signal caller is a different-type of challenge.

Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner has started all 10 games for the Wolverines this season, where he has completed 163-of-272 attempts for 2,411 yards with 15 touchdowns. He also has 146 carries for 461 yards for 10 scores.

“A lot of his success is when he does things on his own as opposed to the designed runs we’ve seen with Jordan Lynch (Northern Illinois), Braxton Miller (Ohio State) and Kain Colter (Northwestern),” said senior linebacker James Morris. “He is more organic in that sense, and that’s a different challenge for us.”

The Hawkeyes know Gardner’s ability because he was the surprise starter in Michigan’s 42-17 victory last season in Ann Arbor, Mich. He completed 18-of-23 attempts for 314 yards with three touchdowns, including a 51-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Jeremy Gallon.

“That game last year caught us off guard a little bit, putting him at quarterback” said senior safety Tanner Miller. “We know what to expect from him, and the film shows most of that.”

Morris says it will take a complete effort to keep Gardner under wraps.

“(The key will be) maintaining integrity in the pass rush, understanding leverage and sustaining your coverage in the back end,” he said. “When the play starts to break down, there’s a potential he could throw it after he has left the pocket. All 11 guys need to be on their responsibilities.”

The 2013 Hawkeyes are a different team than the one that lost in the Big House almost a year ago to date. Iowa’s defense ranks ninth nationally in total defense, surrendering 319.2 yards per game and the scoring defense is 12th, giving up 18.7 points a contest.

“That was a year ago,” said Miller. “What that game meant and what happened is not going to have any effect on what happens in this game. You can’t dwell on it. You can take things they tried to do to us because you know they’ll come back to those things because they worked.

“Michigan has playmakers all over the place. Up front they have some question marks, but their skill athletes are Michigan-type athletes. They’re always going to have them, and it’s going to be a tough test for us.”

For Miller, Morris and the 13 other seniors on the Iowa roster, today will be emotional day with the group competing in Kinnick Stadium for a final time.

“I have been thinking about it a little bit,” said Morris. “It was bound to happen. Once the ball is snapped, it’s all football from there. I’ll be giving everything I can to help us win the game at that point.”

Today’s game is slated to begin at 11:01 a.m. (CT), and it will be televised live on BTN with Kevin Kugler, Glen Mason and J Leman calling the action.