May 24, 2024

Nick Jackson enjoying the surge of intensity with Iowa’s defense

Iowa Hawkeyes Football

Iowa linebacker Nick Jackson tackles a Purdue ball carrier during the second quarter Saturday October 7, 2023 at Kinnick Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

IOWA CITY, Ia. — The Hawkeyes held the Boilermakers to a season-low in points last Saturday, and their veteran linebacker feels the defense is just cracking the surface.

Nick Jackson arrived in Iowa City with a ton of hype behind his name. After all, he was a three-time, All-ACC performer, with 324 tackles over the past three seasons at Virginia. It’s safe to say he has delivered on the hype through six game with the Hawkeyes.

Jackson is Iowa’s second-leading tackler with 52 stops, including 4.5 for loss and a sack. The Atlanta native hasn’t made Hawkeye fans forget about last year’s Butkus Award winner Jack Campbell, but his presence has been felt on the gridiron. The linebackers have been very active all season with Jackson and Jay Higgins leading the way. The duo has basically replaced the production of Campbell and Seth Benson.

Iowa’s defense made several plays in the win over Purdue. There’s no denying the defense is a big reason why the team is 5-1, and currently in second place in the Big Ten West. Jackson is loving how the defensive line sets the tone every game, and takes control in the trenches.

“It all starts with those guys up front, they played very physical, very fast, they were disruptive in the pass game,” Jackson said. “They did a heck of a job making my life, Jay’s life and everybody’s life in the back end easier, so big props to those guys up front, man they were making plays.”

Higgins racked up 12 tackles and picked off a pass against the Boilermakers. Jackson added seven stops. He understands the important role the defense plays on the team, with the offense continuing to struggle. The Hawkeyes have leaned on their defense and special teams for quite some time, and that formula has worked. Jackson has quickly found out that’s everyday life in the physical Big Ten.

“Every time we step on the field we want to get a stop, so in those crucial situations we want to be on our p’s and q’s,” he said. “Be ready to see whatever we see, react to it, make the right play adjustments, and do whatever it takes to get off the field.”

Although the numbers don’t resemble what Iowa’s defense is accomplishing on the field, Jackson believes everything is starting to piece together. Now that the Hawkeyes are navigating through the Big Ten gauntlet, they’re going to need the defense to take it up a notch. Jackson remains confident that the defense will be up to the challenge.

The victory over Purdue gave the team momentum, which will be needed with a trip to Camp Randall Stadium looming. A win over Wisconsin and Iowa will be in the driver’s seat in the West. Jackson just wants to take it all one game at a time.

“I think at the end of the day we’re just happy to come out with a win, so now we can get back to the film room and adjust.”