Iowa will look to pick up where it left off defensively when it faces South Dakota State on Saturday at Iowa City, Iowa, in the season opener for both teams.
Led by linebacker Jack Campbell, Iowa finished 10-4 last season (7-2 in Big Ten play) as the defense forged the team’s hard-nosed identity.
The Hawkeyes held opponents to an average of 19.2 points per game en route to the Big Ten West title. Over the past five years, the Hawkeyes have one of just two defenses in college football to allow 30 or more points in less than 10 percent of its games.
Campbell, named the preseason Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, will again be headlining the defense after leading the nation with 143 tackles, the fifth-most in a season in program history.
“For me personally, you can’t take a day for granted. Just worked my butt off in the film room,” Campbell said in June. “Just doing all the things off the field I could to make an impact, but ultimately I’m here now, I feel great, so I’m ready to go.”
He will have to be ready if he wants to make things easy for the offense led by quarterback Spencer Petras, who threw for 1,880 yards with 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions last season.
While Petras will look to build off last season, South Dakota State quarterback Mark Gronowski will strive to make a successful comeback after missing all of last season with a torn ACL.
Gronowski was efficient in his true freshman season of 2020-21, passing for 1,565 yards with 15 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He also ran for 577 yards and seven scores.
“Coming into this year, we have so many weapons,” Gronowski said. “I’m so excited to throw to them this year, ready to hand it off to (Isaiah Davis). No matter what we do, I feel like we’re going to be great.”
Saturday’s contest will mark the first ever between the programs.
–Field Level Media