Iowa's Josey Jewell sees ball, gets ball By Marc Morehouse The Gazette September 27, 2017
Saquon Barkley won the game. He did, and Penn State did, too. There’s no getting around that. Josey Jewell wrestled this bear with everything he had, and so did all of the Hawkeyes. Time and time again last Saturday night, there was Barkley and then there was Jewell. Sometimes, vice versa. Sometimes, there they were at the same time. For Iowa (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten) to have any chance against a sterling athlete like Barkley, or most of everyone else left on the Hawkeyes’ schedule, starting this weekend with Michigan State (2-1, 0-0), the team defensive concepts need to be sewn into the players. As you can see, Jewell, Iowa’s middle linebacker and the central nervous system of the defense, takes this to heart. “He’s one of the top linebackers in the country,” Iowa linebacker Ben Niemann said. “Just getting to compete with him every day and try to play to the standard that he has, that’s definitely a good thing.” Iowa didn’t win. Jewell would not want this to be a celebration. He matched his career high with 16 tackles, including 11 solo stops and 3.0 tackles for loss. He also had his fifth career interception, with his 33-yard return leading to Iowa’s first touchdown of the game. He recovered a fumble in the second half and finished the game with two pass breakups. Iowa didn’t win. Jewell would not want this to be happy, happy fun time. That’s not the way he’s made. Just going off the conference and national awards that have come his way this week, maybe even he might be able to appreciate what he did to keep the Hawkeyes alive against the No. 4 Nittany Lions. “That’s cool stuff,” he said. “I’d rather just win the game. That stuff is kind of secondary.” Told you. Still, this doesn’t happen a lot for Iowa football, so let’s roll call: On Monday morning, Jewell was named the Big Ten’s co-defensive player of the week. It was Jewell’s second one of those this year and third of his career. On Tuesday, a pair of national awards came his way. Jewell was named the Bednarik Award player of the week and the FWAA/Bronko Nagurski national defensive player of the week. Jewell was one of six Iowa defenders who logged 100 plays from scrimmage against Penn State. The Hawkeyes’ defense was on the field for 39:39 and still allowed just 19 points and two touchdowns in five PSU trips inside Iowa’s 20-yard line. “The film study during the week,” Niemann said when asked what Jewell does behind the scenes to sharpen his skills. “He’s really just thinking of any possibility he can get out there on the field. The leadership he has, the work in the weight room, the whole offseason, all of that goes in and shows up on game day. He does a lot of extra things.” Let’s focus on the film thing. Jewell played prep football at Decorah High School, a program with a healthy attitude toward the value of studying video of your opponent. Even Jewell admits there was a learning curve when it came to film study on this level. “Our coaches in the past have taught us how to watch tape, what to take away and what exactly we’re watching,” Jewell said. “The offensive guards, how the backfield is set, a lot of alignment stuff.” Jewell said he’s leaned on the distillation of his experience at Iowa. When he was a freshman, the Hawkeyes had Anthony Hitchens, Christian Kirksey and James Morris, three high-performing linebackers who played in the NFL. He also credited former Iowa linebackers Travis Perry and Cole Fisher. He credited former Iowa linebackers coach Jim Reid, who’s now defensive coordinator at Boston College. Of course, he credited current linebackers coach Seth Wallace. All that helps him gain a step or three on the field. “If you want to be able to move quick and not be thinking at all when you’re out there or maybe just think for a split second and then just go, you’re going to have to watch a lot of tape,” Jewell said. “You have to understand what kind of plays they can run in different situations, different formations. You have to watch quite a bit of film to not think that much. If you don’t watch a lot of film, you might be thinking a little bit more and you might be slower on your reads.” How players learn and how they view the game is yet another variable coaches need to measure and know about their players. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said all Iowa players have an iPad. The video staff can compile just about any compilation of opponent video from myriad situations. Ferentz prefers players study video together. “There still is something unique about sitting in the room with your teammates,” Ferentz said. “It’s better if the coach is in there, but when the team gets in there, they sit there and talk to each other, teach each other. That’s a good thing. When you get that going, you’re in business.” Think Iowa’s defense gets that out of Jewell? And maybe a little something else? “It’s his competitive spirit,” defensive end Parker Hesse said. “It’s just his will to win. He doesn’t lose at any cost.”
Iowa LB Josey Jewell off to monster start in '17 By Associated Press STAFF Associated Press September 26, 2017
When Iowa defensive lineman Parker Hesse calls his teammate Josey Jewell "obnoxiously competitive," he means it as a compliment. Hesse said Jewell's tenacity even extends to a tailgating game, cornhole, which was pretty much designed to be played with a drink in one hand and a beanbag in the other. But Hesse said Jewell is one of the best he's ever seen at it because of the over-the-top focus Jewell brings to every toss — even reciting the score at each turn. "It's his competitive spirit. It's just his will to win," Hesse said. "He doesn't lose at any cost." That intensity has helped make Jewell, once an overlooked high schooler from Decorah, Iowa, one of the nation's best linebackers. And he's been at his best as a senior. Jewell, a preseason first-team All-American and the Big Ten's leader in tackles this fall, put together one of the best box score lines in school history in last weekend's heartbreaking 21-19 loss to No. 4 Penn State. Jewell had 16 tackles, three of them for losses, along with two pass breakups, a fumble recovery and an interception he returned 33 yards to set up Iowa's first touchdown. Jewell's production is a product of his frenetic playing style, which has inspired teammates ever since he forced his way into the starting lineup as a freshman. Jewell and the Hawkeyes (3-1, 0-1) travel to face Michigan State (2-1, 0-0) on Saturday. "It definitely takes a lot of stress off you, as a defense, just to have a guy like that who's a middle linebacker who runs the defense. It's his defense," cornerback Josh Jackson said. "It's good to have someone with his tenacity, his grit, running to the ball the way he did (against Penn State)...we just try to use his energy to take the stress off of us." Jewell had no other FBS offers coming out of Decorah, but assistant Reese Morgan saw his potential. Jewell turned out to be much better than even Iowa's coaches expected — earning all-league honors as a sophomore and junior — and his vision combined with a commitment to film study are two major reasons why. According to linebacker Ben Niemann, Jewell is an expert is using film to prepare for game-day scenarios, allowing him to play much faster on Saturday than he might test out in offseason evaluations. Jewell's knowledge, vision and athleticism were especially evident on his interception against the Nittany Lions. Jewell dropped into coverage, read quarterback Trace McSorley's eyes perfectly, saw that McSorley would be pressured by a blind-side blitz and was so prepared for a return after making the pick that he nearly brought it back for a touchdown. "Some players just have that (vision) and Josey has had that knack, plus he's got that inner drive that you can't measure at a combine," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "That's probably why we almost blew it in recruiting him. We weren't seeing it ... but Josey's got that factor to him. Jewell has been the lynchpin for a trio of linebackers, including Niemann and Bower, who've led the program to wins in 23 of its last 31 games. But they're all seniors, and Jewell has shown so far that he plans to make his last season in Iowa City his finest. "Any play could be your last play. So play like it is your last play, always give 100 percent. I don't think that's really changed," Jewell said. "But you definitely know that the end is coming near, and it kind of sucks. But you don't want to regret anything in life, so keep on going 100 percent."
Josey Jewell is, well, a jewel By
Mike Hlas The Gazette September 2, 2017
"Preseason first-team All-America linebacker" doesn’t quite leap off the page and into the national football discussion like "possible Top 5 NFL draft pick/quarterback." Wyoming QB Josh Allen will put Kinnick Stadium in his rearview mirror and never look back. He’s got it, “it” being the kind of talent that should take him many miles and millions of NFL dollars from Laramie next spring. But on a September day in Iowa, Allen was enclosed by Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell and a cast of defenders who held him to a puny 4.4 yards per pass attempt. Thus, the Cowboys were on the very short end of the 24-3 score in Saturday’s season-opener for both. The Hawkeyes’ defense was an 11-man deal for 60 minutes, beautiful math for defensive coordinator Phil Parker. “I think that front seven is as talented collectively as what I’ve seen in a long time,” Cowboys Coach Craig Bohl said. “It hearkens back to some defenses I was around.” He was linebackers coach at Nebraska from 1995-2002, and the Huskers’ defensive coordinator the last three of those years. That covers six teams that finished first in the Big 8/Big 12 and one that was a national champion. High praise, prodded by the poor second his superb quarterback finished against the team with the preseason first-team All-America linebacker, Jewell. One play dramatically and permanently changed the course of this game. It involved Jewell pursuing Allen like a coyote chasing a rabbit. Down 7-3, Wyoming sacked Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley and forced the ball from him at the Hawkeyes’ 43-yard line with 50 seconds left in the first half. What looked like a gnarly finish to the half for Iowa at that moment became the opposite when it blitzed Allen on the Cowboys’ first play of their subsequent possession. Unblocked, Jewell chased Allen backward, backward, backward. Allen is a good running quarterback, but couldn’t elude Jewell. Finally, from the Wyoming 39, Allen halfheartedly flipped the ball out of bounds. It was a basic white flag, which produced an official’s yellow flag, because the “pass” traveled nowhere near the line of scrimmage. The intentional grounding penalty was assessed at the spot of the foul, and the 2nd-and-29 was a bad rabbit hole for the Cowboys. “That was huge,” Allen said. “We missed a free man on the backside and I rolled out. I thought maybe I could get around him, but I just didn’t have enough time to turn around and throw it away. That was a bonehead decision on my part.” “That was an interesting play,” Jewell said with typical understatement. “He’s a fast guy, so it’s kind of hard to contain him. Just keep on running after him and hope that something will happen.” It was more than hope. Iowa saved some clock with two timeouts. Then, Wyoming butchered a punt as badly as you’ve seen a punt butchered in the history of punt-butchery, giving Iowa the ball at its foe’s 32. Stanley threw a 27- yard touchdown laser to Noah Fant with: 22 left in the half for a 14-3 lead. It began with Jewell running down Allen. “(Jewell) is a great leader,” said fellow Hawkeye linebacker Ben Niemann, who was pretty great himself Saturday. “He plays hard and he’s a smart guy, so he gets us in sets we need to be in up front. I love playing with him.” The other Iowa senior linebacker, Bo Bower, said “We’ve been through everything together. Josey and I for five years, and Ben played as a true freshman, so the last four years with him. It’s just a family. I know I can count on those guys and they can count on me.” Jewell is appropriately named. What does he lack at the college level? Not knowledge, skills, instincts, physicality or leadership. He’s a jewel. “A lot of NFL folks here at the game today,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said, “and I think they were looking at (Allen), not anybody on our team.” Um, don’t make bank on that. Pro scouts have pretty good eyesight. They’ll be at the rest of Iowa’s games, and not just to see opposing quarterbacks.
Iowa LB Josey Jewell named Walter Camp Defensive Player of the Week By Ryan Connors Landof10.com September 3, 2017
Iowa LB Josey Jewell was named a Walter Camp National Player of the Week along with Missouri QB Drew Lock for Week 1. Jewell registered 14 tackles and two sacks in the Hawkeyes’ season opener against Wyoming on Saturday, both of which led the team. He was one of 10 players in the country to record multiple sacks in college football’s opening weekend. Head coach Kirk Ferentz singled him out after the game: He’s a pretty good player. Maybe some of those guys were watching him too. I’ve encouraged them to. But he’s just got something about him, the way he plays, the tempo he plays at. We weren’t geniuses. We barely almost blew that whole thing recruitment-wise, but from the day he’s walked on campus here, he’s just played at a certain tempo. That’s how guys like that help the whole team elevate their play, and that’s priceless. Lock threw for 521 yards and 7 touchdowns in Missouri’s 72-43 explosion against Missouri State.
As accolades roll in, slights still fuel Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell; plus Big Ten picks By Lee Barfknecht Omaha World Herald September 1, 2017
In 2013, Josey Jewell was a week away from committing to Division III Luther College — though FCS Northern Iowa came in late with a promise to pay for his books. Then Iowa appeared a few days before the signing deadline with a full ride, and Jewell’s dream since seventh grade of playing for the Hawkeyes came true. Jewell hasn’t wasted his opportunity. In his five seasons in Iowa City, he has gone from a punching bag on the scout team to a 6-foot-2, 235-pound preseason first-team All-American. Jewell is coming off a season in which he finished second in the Big Ten with 124 tackles and was one of five finalists for the Butkus Award, which goes to the nation’s top linebacker. In a recent interview ahead of Iowa’s opener at 11 a.m. Saturday against Wyoming, Jewell discussed his transformation as a player, what motivates him and whether Nebraska has become a rival: Q: What did you weigh when you arrived at Iowa, and how did strength coach Chris Doyle impact your growth? A: “I was 195 pounds when I came in right off baseball season. Somehow, Coach Doyle and the conditioning staff put a bunch of weight on me and made me faster. It’s crazy what they can do at Iowa. I wouldn’t be even close to where I am without him and Coach Ferentz. “A developmental program can really improve their players. Sometimes they won’t get the five-stars and four-stars, but those three- and two-star guys want to work. At Iowa, you will get the highest potential you can possibly get.” Q: Kirk Ferentz, 62, now is the longest tenured coach in the FBS, entering his 19th season. Have you seen his enthusiasm wane at all? A: “He’s an amazing guy. He leads by example and does all the little things right. I don’t think there’s a period where he has decreased interest. He’s kept that fire burning. He’s not going to let the team down.” Q: You mentioned getting knocked down a lot as a scout-team player in 2013, and that Ferentz let you know about it. How did you react to that? A: “It was rough, but it was a good kind of rough. He stayed on me and made me accountable. He’s shaped me into the person I am today.” Q: Some guys deny they play with a chip on their shoulder, but you openly embrace it. Why? A: “I try to use some negativity with the way I play. It’s how my dad taught me to look at things when I was younger. You don’t want to get too caught up in the positive. You want to look at the bad stuff so you can know how much better you can be. “You don’t want to dwell on the negative, but you want to use those negatives to make yourself a better person.” Q: After Iowa beat Nebraska last year 40-10, then-NU defensive coordinator Mark Banker marveled at the Hawkeyes’ toughness and said their practices must be “bloodbaths.” What did you make of those remarks? A: “That’s cool to hear. I don’t know about the bloodbath thing. We try to have physical practices and go all out. We don’t want to go 80 percent or not hit each other hard. We practice pretty dang hard every day. If you’re sore, it doesn’t matter — you’re going to keep on hitting people. “Tough, smart and physical. That’s what we live by. It gives us an advantage.’’ Q: What about the series with Nebraska? Is it a rivalry? A: “It’s always been a tough game. It’s an ending game. Either you’re undefeated or you’ve had a bad season and want to get to a bowl game. So it’s pretty important. “We’ve gone back and forth the past five years. That calls for a rivalry. If you beat the crap out of a team five times or 10 times in a row, it might not be a rivalry. But with them, it is a rivalry. A lot of games in the Big Ten are pretty much rivalries.’’ To make the Nebraska game at season’s end as meaningful as possible, Iowa doesn’t want to slip up Saturday against Wyoming. The Cowboys are coached by former Nebraska assistant Craig Bohl, who made a habit of upsetting FBS opponents while head coach at North Dakota State. Wyoming quarterback and likely first-round draft pick Josh Allen will test Iowa’s young secondary, but the Hawkeyes’ strength in both lines should prevail. My pick: Iowa 28, Wyoming 14 * * * Arkansas State at Nebraska, 7 p.m., BTN: All eyes will be on Husker quarterback Tanner Lee and defensive coordinator Bob Diaco. Like Danny Nee used to say, let’s see how they do when the lights are on and the popcorn’s popping. Nebraska 35, Arkansas State 16 Ball State at Illinois, 11 a.m., BTN: The roster at Illinois is stunningly young. Of the 101 players, there are only nine seniors and 16 juniors. That makes the margin for error in any game quite slim.