COLUMBUS — When people talk about Iowa’s football team this season the conversation starts with the Hawkeyes’ defense.
Ryan Day was no exception when he discussed No. 2 Ohio State’s game against Iowa on Saturday at his weekly press conference.
There’s a reason for that. Iowa (3-3, 1-2 Big Ten) has been strong on defense and epically bad offensively.
The Hawkeyes have allowed only 9.8 points per game, which ranks third in major college football nationally. But they rank last nationally in total offense (238.7 yards a game) are No. 127 in scoring (14.7 points a game) and have scored only seven offensive touchdowns in six games.
OSU (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) ranks first nationally in scoring (48.8 points a game) and second in total offense (543.7 yards a game).
“They’re very good. We’ve been working hard and trying to figure out how to attack them. They’re very good at what they do. There’s a reason why they’re ranked so high,” Day said.
“Year in and year out they’re one of the better defenses in the country. They do a good job and this will certainly be a challenge for our offense.
“Their style is similar to some of the teams we played where they want to control the game. They’re not looking or interested in scoring a million points or getting a ton of yards, they just want to win the game. They’ve done that for a long time. It’s their focus,” he said.
Both teams are coming off a bye week last Saturday.
Some other thoughts from Day:
• Remembering history: Iowa beat Ohio State 55-24 in 2017 in Day’s first season on Urban Meyer’s coaching staff. He said he has talked about that result this week.
“That’s a scar that doesn’t go away. I’ve felt it this week, for sure. That was a tough day for all of us. We’ve talked a lot about it as a staff, we’ve talked to our players,” he said.
• Something new from Stroud: Quarterback C.J. Stroud has had more success throwing the ball outside the pocket and on the move this season. Day says the foundation for that addition to Stroud’s game was built in the offseason.
“It all started in the weight room with the work he put in with Mick (strength program coordinator Mickey Marotti) and everybody there, just getting stronger, faster and more powerful. That is allowing him to do more outside the pocket than in the past. I think his body changed in the offseason. I think that’s really where it all came from,” Day said.
• Hoping for a long stay: Day said he is optimistic new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles could be at Ohio State for a long time.
“I think Jim really had an affinity for Columbus and had some friends here. He’s a Philly guy so he liked having a city feel. The goal was to keep him here as long as we could. That is a challenge in today’s day and age. It was the right fit on our end, it was the right fit on his end.
“I think he enjoys being a coordinator. I think he loves the x’s and the o’s of it and the interaction every day with the staff. He seems to really like it at Ohio State,” Day said.
• Cornerbacks update: The Buckeyes’ cornerbacks have been the weak link on the defense at times this season.
Day said he liked what he saw from them in practice during the bye week.
“I think they’ve been working hard in practice. They know where they need to get better. We’ll find out more on Saturday. That’s the ultimate test. The preparation is there, the attention is there, I think the work is there,” he said.
• Compliments for Lachey: Luke Lachey, a sophomore tight end, has played well recently as the Hawkeyes’ No. 2 tight end behind starter Sam LaPorta.
Lachey has 9 catches for 157 yards and caught his first career touchdown pass two weeks ago against Michigan. He is a Grandview High School graduate and the son of former OSU offensive lineman Jim Lachey.
“I’ve been watching his career closely and have been very impressed with how he has played. For tight ends there are a lot of job responsibilities and descriptions and he does them very well. Over the years Iowa has developed a lot of great tight ends. Knowing him and knowing his family I’m just proud of the way he has played,” Day said.
• Red zone success: Ohio State is 29 for 29 in the red zone (inside an opponent’s 20-yard line). It has scored on 14 touchdown passes, 13 rushing touchdowns and two field goals.
“I think we’ve had good balance. We’ ve been able to run the ball down there when we’ve needed to but we’ve also thrown the ball well,” Day said.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.