Hawkeyes need to tackle better, but what does that mean?

Andrew Logue
Iowa linebackers Quinton Alston (52) and Reggie Spearman tackle Indiana quarterback Chris Covington during their game at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014.

IOWA CITY, Ia. –Shoddy tackling is difficult to explain.

But according to members of Iowa's defense, they know it when they see it, and they've seen way too much of it.

"We kind of got away from our fundamentals," safety John Lowdermilk said. "We're all capable of tackling well, it's just a matter of focusing and just really putting a body on a player, really wrapping up on them."

The Hawkeyes have allowed 850 total yards (528 rushing) and 67 points in their last two games. A good chunk of that territory was yielded after an opposing player escaped the clutches of an Iowa defender.

"We've just got to stay focused on how we've gotten here and what makes Iowa great traditionally, and that's good fundamental defense," linebacker Quinton Alston said. "Part of the fundamentals is tackling.

"We've have to keep that in the back of our mind … get where we need to be, and once we get there we need 11 hats on the ball."

The Hawkeyes, 5-2 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten Conference, had an off week to brush up on their technique.

They'll face a Northwestern offense Saturday averaging 20.9 points and 351.4 yards (which places the Wildcats 13th in the Big Ten in both categories).

None of those numbers will matter, however, if the Hawkeyes don't get a better grip on the situation.

"It's something we have to do better at," Lowdermilk said. "It was a focus during the bye week.

"It was mentioned a lot."

Talk is easy. How does a defense break out of a slump, especially with talented tailbacks such as Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon (166.9 rushing yards per game) and Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah (156.1) coming to Kinnick Stadium?

"Open-field tackling is not an easy thing to do, especially against spread teams that have really skilled athletes," Lowdermilk said. "You've got to take good angles. ... It just happens so fast, and if you hesitate for a second, then you're not going to make the tackle.

"If you're starting to second-guess yourself, that's when it really get difficult."