By Courtney Baumann
Phil Parker wasn’t lying when he said Iowa’s defense is good.
The Hawkeyes mostly silenced prospective No. 1 NFL Draft pick Josh Allen in a 24-3 victory over Wyoming in Kinnick on Sept. 2.
Wyoming, which had averaged 436.1 total yards per game in 2016, could only claw out 233 against a powerful Iowa defense.
Allen threw for 174 yards with zero touchdowns and 2 interceptions, and the Hawkeyes nearly picked off a few other passes.
“They’re a really good defense and a good program, and this is what we expected of them,” Allen said after the game. “They played the quick game really well. I think their plan was to take away the quick game, and they knew their safeties would be able to make some plays over the top.”
That’s exactly what the Hawkeyes did.
With only 59 yards allowed on the ground, Allen was forced to throw the ball downfield, and that got him into trouble more than once.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the defense on the afternoon was its ability to make up for the turnovers the Hawkeye offense committed.
Iowa turned the ball over four times — quarterback Nate Stanley threw 1 interception and fumbled twice, and Ihmir Smith-Marsette fumbled on his only touch of the game.
Even so, Allen and the Cowboys could not put the ball in the end zone.
Stanley, who got his first start at quarterback for the Hawkeyes, was grateful that the defense bailed him out.
“My teammates did a great job at picking me up. They had my back the whole game,” he said. “The defense did a great job stopping them on short fields … I’m just really thankful for my teammates.”
Josh Jackson had Iowa’s first interception of the season and the first of his career early in the fourth quarter to shift momentum when Wyoming seemed to be picking it up.
The defensive back picked off Allen at Iowa’s 20-yard line and ran it back 41 yards to put the Hawkeyes in great position to score again.
Brady Reiff also had his first interception of his career late in the fourth quarter to kill Wyoming’s last drive. The Hawkeyes ran the clock out to seal their first win of the season.
And while some NFL scouts may have attended Kinnick to watch the start of Allen’s junior campaign, Iowa senior Josey Jewell more than likely caught their attention.
The team captain had 14 tackles, including 7 unassisted, 2 sacks, and 2.5 tackles for a loss.
The rest of the linebacker corps had an exceptional game as well — Ben Niemann added 13 tackles, and Bo Bower had 11.
Jewell credited the defensive line for the group’s success. Had it not been for them, the linebackers would not have been able to get out in space as often as they did against Wyoming.
“They’re filling gaps inside, and they’re allowing us to free up and run outside,” Jewell said. “I’m not having to worry about second-guessing and coming back inside or anything like that. It’s a really big game for the D-line to be able to do that for us and to free us up.”