Josh Heupel noted at his press conference on Monday that he hasn’t looked at many gameday clips of Iowa’s defense this season.

However, as the Tennessee coach prepares the Volunteers to face the Hawkeyes in this year’s Citrus bowl, he knows overall that Iowa’s defenders will bring forth a challenge.

“Philosophically, they haven’t changed a whole lot over the years,” Heupel said. “They’re big, strong and physical on the first and second level. They have really good athletes on the third level of the defense.”

Heupel noted that Iowa’s defense will be a “huge test” for the Vols on the offensive side of the ball. In total, the Hawkeyes defenders have broken up 53 passes, 38 quarterback hurries and nine forced fumbles.

Opponents against Iowa this season only have a 31.63% success rate on 3rd-down conversions. For total offense, opposing offenses are averaging 3.99 yards-per-play.

“Statistically, they’re always difficult to run the football against,” Heupel said. “They typically do a good job on 3rd downs. Their pass defense is one of the best not just in their league, but across the country.”

All-in-all, Heupel noted that Iowa’s defenders “make you earn it.”

“They don’t give you anything,” Heupel said. “You’ve got to go out, take things and earn it. They don’t make mistakes and play with great discipline and fundamentals.”

Kickoff between Tennessee and Iowa in the Citrus Bowl is set for noon on New Year’s Day. The game will televised on ABC.