The Hawkeyes moved to 4-0 with a 48-3 pasting of Middle Tennessee State. Once again, A.J. Epenesa was held to pedestrian like stats of two tackles and one pass swatted down. As mentioned in the secondary title, it’s only a matter or time before someone scheme’s the game wrong and Epenesa erupts. For the science nerds, here is information on the super volcano.
What can we make of the lack of sacks and tackles? Through four games it’s apparent that teams are game planning around Epenesa and forcing others on the defense to rise up. In the MTSU game, Daviyon Nixon was able to use the lack of extra blockers on him to the tune of a sack and seven tackles.
Against MTSU, in just the first series there was an illegal chop block penalty on MTSU against Epenesa and from there it got worse as they tried to bait him into retaliating against their rough, and at times, after the whistle and dirty play. I can recall one play where Epenesa was illegally blocked again (not called) and the lineman than offered to help him up. Epenesa showed a small bit of frustration as he swiped the “helping” hand away. Fortunately for MTSU, the game was well out of hand at this point and Epenesa sat out most of the fourth quarter before he had a chance for some vengeance against the Blue Raiders.
While the double teams, holds, and chop blocks are limiting the counting stats for Epenesa, if I’m an NFL scout, I’m excited to see that he can keep his composure through the cheap stuff and keep working and controlling the game. Once he learns more tricks of the trade, he will be able to overcome more of what offenses are throwing at him, including double teams.
2018 Annihilations: 10.5
2019 Annihilations: 1
This Week Last Year: Iowa 48, Minnesota 31
Epenesa had a quiet came against the Gophers this time last week as he only recorded one assisted tackle. Minnesota came out throwing and actually scored more than Wisconsin did the week before against Iowa but four interceptions led to the comfortable victory.
Up Next: Michigan
I’m hoping that Michigan is arrogant enough to think that they don’t have to game plan around Epenesa and just let the left tackle go for it mano a mano. Michigan has never faced Epenesa so may be passive with him if they simply look at his stats.