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Last year's Iowa rush defense allowed 4.11 YPC. That was the worst Iowa rush defense since 2000—Kirk Ferentz's second year as the head coach—when the Hawks allowed 4.47 YPC.
Much of the reason for such a poor showing was because the line, especially the interior of the line, was undersized, inexperienced and lacking in talent.
This year, the interior of the line has the potential to be a strength.
Junior Louis Trinca-Pasat was arguably the team's best lineman early in the year, though he did wane down the stretch. He will miss spring practices as he recovers from a recent surgery.
Sophomore Darian Cooper is the team's hottest ticket, having been tabbed by ESPN's Adam Rittenberg as the Hawkeyes' most likely spring breakout player.
In a HawkCentral.com article by Andrew Logue, senior linebacker James Morris specifically pointed out junior Carl Davis as having made considerable strides this spring. Moreover, Davis himself seems to be taking on a leadership role.
Throw in highly touted redshirt freshmen Faith Ekakitie and Jaleel Johnson, and the pieces are there for the Hawkeyes to regain control of the interior of the line, as has been the trademark for all of Ferentz's best defenses.