Iowa CITY, Iowa - Carl Davis began smiling before hearing all of the question. It's been asked of the Iowa defensive tackle before and it won't be the last time it comes up.
If you're identifying a Hawkeye hot spot this preseason, you're wondering about an inexperienced line.
"We just worry about what we can control, honestly," Davis said. "The only thing we can do is come out here and practice and give our all every day. If we make improvements every day, I know we can turn heads in the fall. People can say, "Wow, that defense is good.""
The 6-foot-5, 310-pound Davis could make things easier on new position coach Reese Morgan. It's his third year in the program. He knows what it takes to be good after playing behind five NFL draft picks the last two years.
"I've been around a lot of great defensive linemen - (Adrian) Clayborn, (Christian) Ballard, (Karl) Klug, Mike Daniels, Broderick Binns," Davis said. "I just try to take a little bit from from everybody I've been around. I watch their film and see how they go about their practices. I try to take their demeanor and bring it out here."
Davis missed spring ball after undergoing a knee surgery in January. The injury cost him almost half of last season. He dropped to 290 pounds after his procedure.
"The first two years have been a roller coaster for me with injuries and coaching changes," the Detroit product said. "I've adjusted to it well."
Davis red shirted during 2010, his first year on campus.
"I'm 100 percent," he said. "I'm rolling. I've been 100 percent since the start of summer."
Davis' strength and conditioning routine the last several months supplied him with confidence heading into the fall.
"I had a pretty good summer," he said. "You can ask Coach (Chris) Doyle on that. I got the weights up in the weight room and I trimmed down a little bit.
"I just want to be the best player that I can be right now; stay healthy and be a great contributor to this Hawkeye defense."
True freshmen D-linemen Faith Ekakitie and Jaleel Johnson have impressed Davis is the early days of camp.
"They're some big guys," Davis said. "I'm glad to see some big guys in here. Faith and Jaleel are doing some good things out there. Faith is really catching on quick. Jaleel, he's tossing around some big bodies."
Defensive line candidates young and old are using opportunity to push each other, Davis said.
"The competition is open," he said. "We have some young guys doing some good things, too. The thing is we all want to get better. It's not really about one individual person."