Iowa rush defense a mixed bag this fall

From a macro level, there's very little mystery about the Georgia Tech offense.

The Yellow Jackets run the football 82.5 percent of the time, and have great success in doing so, ranking second nationally in rushing average (307.2 ypg). Iowa knows exactly what's coming from Georgia Tech on Tuesday night in the FedEx Orange Bowl (Fox, 8 p.m. ET), and while figuring out the triple option isn't easy, the Hawkeyes defenders can dig in to stop the run.

"We've going to have to do a really good job with our front four," Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz told me. "In a lot of games, certain players only have to really focus on one part of the attack, but these guys do a great job of making all 11 guys play at their best. They've got good players who are very well coached. It's going to be a heck of a challenge for our defense."

How has Iowa fared against the run this season? For the most part, very well.

The Hawkeyes rank 30th nationally in rushing defense (122 ypg), allowing only eight touchdowns on the ground and none in the first five games. Iowa's defensive line of Adrian Clayborn, Broderick Binns, Karl Klug and Christian Ballard is quite possibly the most recognizable group on the team.

But there are misperceptions about this Iowa team. One, which I'll explore later in the blog, is that the Hawkeyes run a boring and conservative offense. That's dead wrong.

Another claims that Iowa has a lockdown run defense. It's true in most games but off base in others.

The Hawkeyes were very effective in limiting the run against good teams and good backs like Penn State (Evan Royster) and Wisconsin (John Clay). But they also allowed 190 rush yards to Iowa State, struggled to stop Michigan's ground game for a stretch in the second half and couldn't keep a one-dimensional Ohio State offense in check on Nov. 14.

Iowa can't expect to totally shut down Josh Nesbitt, Jonathan Dwyer and the Tech rushing attack Tuesday, but it will need a better showing than the one in Columbus.

Here's a game-by-game breakdown of Iowa's rush defense: