It’s been an eventful morning in Iowa City.
Not only was it announced that the September 22nd matchup between Iowa and Wisconsin will be Kinnick Stadium’s second-consecutive night game, but news came from the Big Ten office that sophomore defensive end A.J. Epenesa was named co-Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. He shares the honor with Minnesota defensive back Antoine Winfield.
Epenesa has been a pivotal point of Iowa’s stout defensive line that has only allowed just under 400 yards of total offense. On Saturday alone, he tallied five total tackles and two crucial sacks (both career highs), as well as as pass breakup and a QB hurry. Epenesa is currently tied for the lead in the Big Ten in sacks with three total, and he’s second in the NCAA. Again, this is only after two weeks of play.
The Hawkeyes as a whole held Iowa State to 19 total yards rushing, and running back David Montgomery ended the day with 44 rushing yards. The entire defense has only allowed 10 points in two weeks of gameplay, and are one of four teams in the country that have only allowed a single touchdown.
Epenesa and the line are a pivotal reason for that. For two straight weekends, they’ve proved that rushing against this Iowa team is going to be an extremely difficult task. Remember this as well: Epenesa doesn’t start. What’s a guy gotta do to crack the top spot on the depth chart, Kirk?
Congrats to A.J. on an award well-earned. I hope it’s the first of many.