Sept. 24, 2003
The Hawkeyes took major steps in all aspects of play last Saturday, according to coach Kirk Ferentz in his Tuesday press conference.
Ferentz praised his already stunning defense and said his offense was coming along after having to “weather a storm” early in ninth-ranked Iowa’s 21-2 win over Arizona State University inside Kinnick Stadium.
“I was very pleased with the effort our team put out there,” Ferentz said. “I’m obviously pleased to get a win against a fine team too.”
While the defense held the Sun Devils to just 184 yards of total offense and cornerback Jovon Johnson snagged his third interception of the season, the offense had to overcome their first three drives, the second leading to a safety after center Brian Ferentz mis-snapped in the shotgun formation and quarterback Nathan Chandler fumbled.
“Saturday night was huge because it was a somewhat inauspicious beginning,” said the coach. “Those first three series were not real impressive. We were rocked a little bit. (ASU) came out ready to go and did a good job. And after those first three series, on the sidelines, I was really curious to see where we were going to head from there.
“I don’t think we’re as fragile as we were a year ago. If you compare where we were at last year, there were still a lot of question marks about our team at this time. I think we answered them at Penn State in week five, but there were a lot of questions. I don’t know if we are as good as we were last year. We won’t know to the end of the season. But at least we’re a little more mentally mature than a year ago.”
Head Coach Kirk Ferentz
“Our guys responded in the proper fashion. The entire group didn’t get rattled. They kept playing and good things started happening for us in the second quarter and right through to the end of the game,” added Ferentz.
Ferentz credited his team’s mental toughness for getting through the early miscues.
“I don’t think we’re as fragile as we were a year ago,” said Ferentz. “If you compare where we were at last year, there were still a lot of question marks about our team at this time. I think we answered them at Penn State in week five, but there were a lot of questions. I don’t know if we are as good as we were last year. We won’t know to the end of the season. But at least we’re a little more mentally mature than a year ago.”
The coach also said that Chandler’s 15-of-23 performance for 154 yards and three touchdowns, with his first interception of the year, was also a sign of progress.
“The shotgun play (with the fumble leading to the safety) was ugly and then we had the interception and that was ugly too. How’s a guy going to respond?” said Ferentz. “It’s kind of like being a relief pitcher in baseball or a corner in football. You have to flush bad plays down or they really come back and cost you down the road. To his credit, that’s what he did. He didn’t get rattled, and he did some great things.”
Without a doubt, however, the greatest plays of the game came from the Hawkeye defense, which only allowed 24 rushing yards. ASU was held without an offensive point for the first time since their 31-0 loss to Southern Cal in 1995, a feat unseen by the Iowa defense since their 51-0 win over Kent State in 2001.
Coach Ferentz finds the formula to a successful defense to be holistic in nature.
“Whether it is defensively or the entire football team, we really have to do things together and be on the same page to have a chance,” he said. “And I think that’s what we saw on Saturday night. It was going to take a team effort to slow Arizona State down. It wasn’t going to be just one phase or one segment of our defense. Everybody complemented each other real well. I think if we do that, we’ll have the chance to play pretty good defense against anybody.”
HAWK NOTES: Wide receiver Ed Hinkel, who had a groin injury in last Saturday’s game, is out indefinitely. Coach Ferentz will look to fill Hinkel’s shoes with red-shirt freshman Calvin Davis, who had three catches for 51 yards against ASU. Hinkel joins Maurice Brown, Bob Sanders, Albert Young and Jermelle Lewis on the sidelines against Michigan State this Saturday. Freshman fullback Champ Davis and offensive linesman David Walker have been moved off “injured” onto “questionable” for the Big Ten season opener.
Ferentz also sounded off about players without college degrees entering the NFL draft in his weekly meeting with the press: “When you look at how many guys are going to the NBA out of high school, I think it’s alarming. For the most part, it’s a bad route to take. Statistics show that NFL players who have college degrees earn more money and have longer careers than those who don’t. I think there’s a reason for that,” he said.
Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com