It’s tough to improve upon the 6th best defense in the country, but some media outlets believe the Iowa football team’s defense could be #1 next year.
The Iowa football team is losing six key starters on the defensive side of the ball so some may expect a bit of regression from Phil Parker’s 2018 defense that allowed just 290 yards and 17.4 points per game.
That’s not necessarily the case at Dear Old Gold. In fact, an article was written just last week outlining three reasons why this defensive unit could actually be better than last year’s but we didn’t go as far as to say the defense would be the best in the nation.
The folks at 247Sports did though. In an article ranking the top ten defenses heading into 2019, they placed the Iowa football team right at the top ahead of the likes of Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, and Mississippi State.
Much of that strong belief is riding on future top-10 pick AJ Epenesa continuing his ascent to being one of the best defensive ends to ever play football for the Iowa football program.
One of the best defensive players — if not the best — in the country returns to the Hawkeyes in the form of A.J. Epenesa. Coming off a season where he racked up 10.5 sacks, Epenesa will continue to burn opposing offensive lineman.
It’s certainly plausible. As we alluded to in another article, the best scenario for this defense is that this “inexperienced” defensive line reaches their incredibly high ceiling, a ceiling that is much higher than last year’s starting line who possessed a high floor. The linebackers will gel as a unit after a rocky 2018 that saw many newcomers see playing time because of injuries and ineffectiveness. Most importantly though, Phil Parker meshes this secondary unit together after the loss of Hooker and Gervase.
That’s the curious case of this 2019 team though. Last year’s team possessed a high floor but limited upside. What you saw was what you get. This new defense with six new starters has a significantly higher ceiling but a lot more downside to go along with, which is typical of teams with inexperienced players.
However, after watching this coaching staff, and in particular, Phil Parker consistently replace departed players with ease, I do believe this Iowa football team could be the best defense nation by year’s end.
If they play to their potential and this defense is the number one ranked defense in the nation, we could be talking about the Iowa football team as a College Football Playoff team.