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Hawkeyes defensive line is something, something misfit toys

Aug 12, 2017 at 9:08 pm | Print View

IOWA CITY — Whenever Iowa’s defensive linemen want to make the “Island of Misfit Toys” T-shirts, they can go ahead and print them up.

At any given time during Saturday’s scrimmage at Kinnick Stadium, this group went from conventional and players you knew from the last couple of seasons in the game to true freshmen and ends moving inside to play tackle.

Given the Hawkeyes strengths and experience levels at end and tackle, you could see this coming. After Saturday, now you have a better idea for how the D-line might look in 2017. Iowa is out of its comfort zone here, but, perhaps, it’s in a good way. Some of these young athletes don’t look like your conventional defensive linemen and that’s OK.

It can still work.

“I think we take pride in that, you know, the land of misfit toys,” junior defensive end Parker Hesse said. “We have a bunch of guys who, if you look at them, might not wow you. We don’t look really sexy in our pads, but we’re guys who are going to ge the job done.”

In pass rush packages, Hesse, a 257-pound end who’ll be a three-year starter this season, moved inside to tackle for the first time in his career. Junior end Matt Nelson played a ton of tackle. Nelson played so much defensive tackle Saturday that head coach Kirk Ferentz was asked afterward if Nelson is officially a tackle.

“Not officially,” Ferentz said. “We’re looking at him both ways. ….We’re weighing all of our options there. Like last year, we had three guys at each position who could play. I think we have that in one of the positions, now we have to figure out the other equation.”

Iowa has a lot of defensive ends and needs help at tackle, where, senior DT Nathan Bazata said, as many as five players are battling for serious playing time. Usually, when the Iowa staff has had sitting starters at a position, it doesn’t mess with them….

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