Iowa D-line bucks trend, manhandles offense at open practice
There have been practices this fall where Iowa senior center Austin Blythe has felt his offensive linemates have gotten the better of the Hawkeyes' defensive front.
Then there have been days like Saturday.
Senior defensive end Drew Ott and Iowa's defensive line had its way with its offensive counterparts for much of the open scrimmage at Iowa's annual Kids Day at Kinnick Stadium.
"There have definitely been days where we've been better," Blythe said. "It was just an off day, I guess."
The day started and ended the same way for Iowa's first-team offense, with Ott crashing off the edge for a sack.
In between, Ott, senior defensive end Nate Meier and the Hawkeye front four consistently made things difficult for the offense.
"I think our D-line is working really great together as a unit," Meier said. "The offensive line is getting better, as well. We're all just trying to get better right now."
Ott and Meier were consistently in the backfield while working against new sophomore tackles Ike Boettger and Boone Myers.
Meier had a strip-sack and teamed with Ott in producing consistent pressure on quarterback C.J. Beathard.
Boettger said Saturday's performance hasn't been indicative of the way the summer has gone.
"Each day is different. There are some days I win more reps than those guys, but there are days they kick our butts," Boettger said. "It's just a battle every single day."
Iowa is hoping those constant battles against the likes of Ott, an all-Big Ten pick last year, will help Boettger and Myers prepare for the Hawkeye's season-opener Sept. 5 against Illinois State.
"They're very good defensive ends. It's tough on those guys," Beathard said. "But that'll just continue to make them better players for the future."
Blythe described Saturday's scrimmage as a misstep in a camp that has been full of progress for the young tackles and the line as a group.
"I think we are making progress, but I don't think today was a good indicator of how much progress we've made," Blythe said. "We've definitely got to compete harder and come out and just focus on the things that we can control, like fundamentals and technique and finishing plays. I don't think we did a good enough job as an offense as a whole today."
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.