The addition of linebacker Josey Jewell definitely helped the Hawkeyes defense, but many other players also stepped up, as well. They forced their fourth turnover of the early season when Ben Niemann intercepted a pass from Joel Lanning, and their defense as a whole was more reminiscent of 2015.
One player in particular that stepped up was Jaleel Johnson. After getting inconsistent pressure on the quarterback against Miami (OH) in week one, Johnson stepped up and was a key contributor for the Hawkeyes defensive stance against the Cyclones. The defensive tackle recorded a career-high seven tackles and stopped many plays at the line.
Early in the game, the Cyclones tried to establish a run game with Mike Warren and Joel Lanning. The Cyclones only ended up averaging 3.6 yards per carry and Warren only racked up 28 yards on seven carries. Lanning also had 27 yards on 17 carries, however it was hard to get by Johnson.
He was bull rushing Iowa State’s offensive line and the Cyclones had no answer for him. It gave the Hawkeyes a definitive advantage that they didn’t have for most of the game against Miami (OH). If Iowa wants to be considered one of the best teams in the Big Ten then they need to retain the stifling defense that they had last season.
Only giving up three points and forcing Iowa State’s passing game to just 4.7 yards per attempt and their run game to 3.6 yards per carry is how they’ll do it. It was more than just Johnson, defensive tackle Nathan Bazata recorded a career-high four tackles and two pass breakups, as well.
Although, it seemed that every time Iowa stopped the Cyclones in their tracks in the first half, Jaleel Johnson was part of it. If he’s able to build on a solid 2015 then the Hawkeyes will have a very good defensive line. Johnson has the talent to be a force every week, he just needs to show it now.