They say defense wins championships and Iowa’s got them to the Big Ten Football Championship Game last season, intercepting 25 passes – a conference high. But can they replicate that this season? Well, they’ve got some veterans coming back ready to lead the way.

Seth Benson and Jack Campbell manned the middle of the Hawkeye defense in 2021. Both decided to come back for their senior seasons and have different expectations of themselves.

“This camp, we kind of expect perfection out of ourselves,” Benson said. “And if that doesn’t happen, you know, we’re pretty critical on ourselves. And from there we have a lot of young guys coming up that are taking great steps forward of kind of getting to that same level.”

“Having like that last year under my belt, being able to get some more experience in that aspect, just being able to put guys in better places,” Campbell said. “Maybe I missed a couple opportunities last year to do that. So just really capitalize on this year and being able to put my defensive linemen in better positions to make the tackle.”

Riley Moss and Kaevon Merriweather want to uphold the playmaking standard on the back end.

“Every good team needs a good group of leaders,” Moss said. “I think last year we had a good group of leaders … Jack Koerner, Matt Hankins and those guys. But it’s cool to take over that role as well and kind of, you know, give back to the younger guys.”

“Ballhawks, man, we wanna be ballhawks,” Merriweather said. “I think that’s something that we, you know, kind of talk about every single day, just being able to change the tide of the game. Getting picks … disrupting the receivers, just making plays on the back end, making sure that we’re secure on the back end – cause we’re like the last line of defense.”

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz thinks this defense is capable of replicating last year’s excellence.

“You’d like to think you’re gonna be better but we’ve still got to do it,” Ferentz said. “That’s the bottom line. And I’ll take it a step further. I think that’s one thing about our conference. There are teams in our conference that believe in defense. We certainly do, and have for a long time.”