NU defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski was on staff at Iowa as a graduate assistant and coach from 2005 to 2011. So he’s quite familiar with the Hawkeyes’ brand of football.
That’s why Kaczenski’s convinced that Friday’s matchup will be decided in the trenches. “This is old time football,” he said.
Both teams may be bruised and fatigued after a long season, but that won’t change the style of play.
“You know this is going to be a physical game,” Kaczenski said. “This is a game that’s going to be won up front.”
Kaczenski spent an hour chatting with Husker fans at the Big Red Breakfast on Wednesday morning. We’ll have more on his speaking appearance in the Metro edition of The World-Herald.
For now, a few highlights are below…
>> Iowa junior left tackle Brandon Scherff, listed at 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds, might be the best offensive tackle in college football, Kaczenski said. Kaczenski’s not sure if he’s seen a better tackle on film.
>> Kaczenski said Penn State was certainly aware of Randy Gregory last week, slanting its protection his way or at times using a running back (sometimes a tight end, too) to help block the sophomore defensive end. Gregory still finished with eight tackles, and six of those were at the point of attack, Kaczenski said.
>> Eric Martin was playing more than 60 snaps per game toward the end of last year, which Kaczenski said affected Martin’s ability to produce. Actually, Martin was weighing about 230 pounds by the end of the season, according to Kaczenski. That’s why, Kaczenski said, the four-man rotation at defensive end (Gregory, Avery Moss, Jason Ankrah and Greg McMullen) is so important.
>> Kaczenski said he and the defensive coaches made some adjustments to be better prepared for the play-action rollouts and bootlegs that Penn State had some success with last week. “We’re going to see a ton of that (against Iowa),” Kaczenski said.
>> True freshman defensive tackle Maliek Collins played his best game against Penn State last week, Kaczenski said.
>> The difference lately in redshirt freshman defensive tackle Vincent Valentine? Kaczenski said Valentine’s transformed from a rookie who was playing not to make a mistake to a seasoned guy who’s focused on simply making plays.