IOWA CITY, Ia. — The Hawkeyes’ defense has been arguably one of the nation’s best through the month of September.
Every game the unit continues to play with some physicality and tenacity that opponents struggle to match. That’s why it’s no surprise Iowa is first in the FBS in defensive touchdowns, third in points allowed and 13th in total yards allowed through four games.
Those numbers bring a smile to junior linebacker Seth Benson’s face. After all, he has stockpiled 31 total stops during that span. He was also the team’s second-leading tackler in 2020. Benson’s double-digit tackling performances against Indiana and Colorado State has made him a force to be reckoned with.
However, as dominant as the Hawkeyes have been on defense, Benson still pushes his teammates hard in practice because he never wants them to be complacent.
“We just got to attack the week Sunday through Friday, and Saturdays are just a byproduct,” Benson said. “That’s what we pride ourselves on, you got to attack the week in order to come out here and play good football.”
Benson and fellow linebacker Jack Campbell combined for a jaw-dropping, 29 tackles in the win over the Rams. The second level of Iowa’s defense appears to be in good hands with those two. Not to mention they form one of the best linebacker duos in the Big Ten.
The Hawkeyes’ defense haven’t allowed a point in the second half over the past two games. The group may bend, but they definitely don’t break. Benson wants the defense to tighten up against the pass. Currently the Hawkeyes are 37th in the nation against the pass. It’s no mystery there needs to be more pressure on the quarterback up front.
Still, Benson and Campbell do a great job cleaning up anything that comes through the defensive line. Iowa’s offense can be somewhat pedestrian at times, and often needs the defense to create a turnover to provide a spark. Benson understands the responsibility of the defense and he always try to carry out what’s expected from the unit.
“We got to get off the field on third downs, that’s one of our big goals, to get off the field,” he said. “Get the ball back and get good field position for our offense.”
The former two-star prospect has come a long way to being one of the Big Ten’s rising defenders. Iowa (4-0) has a pivotal road matchup this Friday against an undefeated Maryland team. It could potentially be a trap game for Iowa, so Benson is making sure his teammates aren’t overlooking Maryland (4-0) with Penn State looming the week after.
The Terrapins are playing with extreme confidence though. Taulia Tagovailoa will be the best quarterback the Hawkeyes have played against up to this point. Iowa’s defense is currently ranked 37th in the nation and Tagovailoa will definitely put the secondary to the test.
The South Dakota native is remaining focused through an intense week of practice. Benson and Campbell, who he’s great friends and attends bible study with, will need to set the tone for the linebackers come Friday. They are the enforcers with natural instincts, some tenacity, a non-stop motor and a mean streak, which is a recipe for disaster for ball carriers.
These linebackers aren’t afraid to get their jerseys dirty and can fly from sideline to sideline. In other words, Benson knows it’s going to be all work and no play under the Friday night lights.
“If you hope something is going to happen it’s not going to happen,” the 22-year old said. “You just have to take it upon yourself to go out there and do your job, and do more than your job.”