BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Different week. Different lineup. Same results.
Iowa used its fifth different defensive lineup combination of the season in Saturday’s 42-16 win at Indiana, and like the four that preceded it, the Hawkeyes continued to produce.
"No matter who is in, the expectations are the same," strong safety Geno Stone said. "You don’t want to let anybody down."
Stone made his second start of the season, allowing Amani Hooker to again replace one of the linebackers in a look designed to help Iowa defend spread offensive attacks.
He totaled five tackles, forced a fumble and intercepted a pass in the end zone as part of a defensive effort that also took Indiana out of its game.
The Hoosiers became the fourth opponent this season to finish with fewer than 100 rushing yards against the Iowa defense, totaling 67 yards on the ground.
Indiana’s team yardage total was 21 yards fewer than the average performance of the Hoosiers’ leading rusher. Freshman Stevie Scott did lead Indiana on the ground but collected just 29 yards on eight carries.
"We’re always trying to make a team one-dimensional, and the more we can do that, the better position we are in," defensive end Parker Hesse said. "That’s Iowa football."
That’s what Iowa is getting from a lineup anchored by a deep rotation on a defensive line that has been working in front of a group of linebackers and cornerbacks that have been dealing with multiple injuries in recent weeks.
"The guys who come in, they’ve stepped in and did a great job," said free safety Jake Gervase, who matched a career high with eight tackles and returned his first interception of the season 19 yards in the fourth quarter.
It was the type of effort Iowa was looking for after giving up 31 points a week earlier in a win at Minnesota.
"We can live with 16 points," Hesse said.
Indiana caught the Hawkeyes’ attention Saturday by doing something no Iowa opponent had done this season.
The Hoosiers were the first team in six games to score on a game-opening drive against Iowa, marching 64 yards on 13 plays to take a 3-0 lead on a 29-yard field goal by Logan Justus.
Indiana mustered just 63 yards the rest of the first half as Iowa took control of the game, opening a 21-10 halftime lead as Kristian Welch made his first start at middle linebacker and true freshmen Riley Moss and Julius Brents opened at cornerback for the second week.
"What those guys are doing on Saturdays is a result of the work they are putting in on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and how they go about preparing," Gervase said. "They’re learning as they go, but they’ve stepped up and done a great job."
He said veterans are taking the time to make certain the lineup newbies are ready to perform.
"There are a good group of guys on this team, and it’s an example of how things are supposed to work," Gervase said. "We’re there for each other, and the result is that when it’s time for the next man in, the next man is ready to go."
Stone said that prepared him to step in a week ago for the first time at Minnesota, allowing Hooker to move into the role he filled again at Indiana.
"We’re here for each other, and result, it’s showing up on the scoreboard," he said. "We’ll see on tape that we have a lot of work to do, but we’re finding ways to make it happen."