The Hawkeyes got back into the win column and improved to 5-2 after defeating Purdue 26-20 at home last Saturday. A.J. Epenesa didn’t accumulate any counting stats with the exception of one pass break-up on a ball that he batted down. Despite Purdue getting to 20 points, the defense once again did a solid job as they have done week in and week out.
While those that look only at stats will say that Epenesa struggled against Purdue, those who know the game understand that opponents are game planning against Epenesa and forcing him to take on two defenders or simply watch the play go in the other direction.
Purdue attempted 50 passes, many of the quick and underneath variety, and that led to the defensive backfield having to make the majority of tackles in the game. Matt Hankins was the leading tackler with 11.
The only highlight that we have for Epenesa is the play below where he pushes the left tackle into the backfield and when the fullback misses a chip on him, the running back has no place to go as Daviyon Nixon makes the tackle.
Epenesa received more plays off than usual, most likely in hopes of keeping him fresh for later in the game. In his absence, John Waggoner was able to pick up his first career sack.
One thing that I believe I see, and let me know if anyone else is seeing the same thing, is that Epenesa isn’t getting as low as he did last year and certainly not as low as some of the top pass rushers in the NFL. If you watch someone like J.J. Watt, he uses speed and low leverage to work around the defender. It looks like Epenesa is a little taller in his attack this year.
2018 Annihilations: 10.5
2019 Annihilations: 3
This Week Last Year: Iowa 24, Penn State 30
Epenesa had just one tackle in the loss to Penn State last year.
Up Next: at Northwestern
Iowa looks to continue their winning ways as they travel to Chicago to face Northwestern.