As the Iowa Hawkeyes prepare themselves to make a run at the Big Ten title in 2014, they face the prospect of replacing the backbone of their defense at the linebacker position. Three new starters will make their debut at the linebacker position this fall for Iowa, making any Hawkeye fan a little leery about the chances of their defense. But whoever ends up filling those roles this season will be helped in a major way by the presence of defensive tackle Carl Davis up front and his uncanny ability to occupy blockers and free up other defenders to make plays.
At 6-foot-5, 315 pounds, Davis is hard to miss in the center of the Iowa defense. He finished the 2013 season with 42 tackles, including four tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks, but his biggest contribution to the defense was demanding attention from opposing offensive lines. His big-bodied destructiveness made double-teams a necessity for opponents, which opened up lanes for the team’s senior linebackers to clean up, as all three starters finished with over 100 tackles last season. Without that anchor in the middle, things would have been much more difficult for the Iowa linebacker corps in 2013.
Thanks to his play in the middle, Iowa finished as the No. 2 defense in the Big Ten last season, allowing just 303.1 yards per game. As they break in fresh faces on the defensive side of the ball this fall, having that strong presence in the interior of the defensive line will go a long way in creating a smooth transition for the 2014 defense. While the new starters get acclimated, Davis will just keep doing his thing, mauling offensive linemen and clearing lanes for the Iowa defense to wreak havoc.
While his work will largely go unnoticed in the box score, there is no denying the importance of Carl Davis to the Iowa defense this season. His leadership and disruptiveness at the point of attack will help alleviate any issues caused by the Hawkeyes’ general lack of experience in key positions and make Iowa one of the toughest defenses in the Big Ten yet again this season. Will he be enough to get the Black and Gold all the way to Indianapolis for the conference title game?