Hawkeyes eying a battle against Illinois, the top scoring defense in the country

Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 10:42 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Hawkeye players say a big challenge against Illinois will be running the ball.

Iowa had a mediocre showing on the ground last Saturday and the Fighting Illini stop the run better better than any other Big Ten team.

“They play a loaded box all the time,” said senior quarterback Spencer Petras. “We know it’s going to be a challenge to run the ball.”

Kirk Ferentz credits former Iowa player and assistant Bret Bielema for creating a strong defensive identity.

“The key thing I think is they are well coached they know where to be in went to be there that type of thing,” Ferentz said. “They don’t leave big seams for you and it’s hard to create them.”

The Illini have some freedom to stack the box because of how well they can play man-to-man against the pass.

“They’re really just saying ‘we’re going to have our guys go against your guys and we’re just betting that we’re gonna stop you,’” said sophomore wide receiver Arland Bruce IV. “I feel like if I get man on man coverage and I know it’s one on one that I feel like I should be able to win that.”

“It’s starting to feel like a game where explosive plays are going to be critical,” said Petras. “If a team wants to defend you like that (man-to-man) you gotta attack it you gotta win match ups and I gotta win my location.”