Sept. 4, 2004
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IOWA CITY — Sophomore quarterback Drew Tate said his first start as a Hawkeye didn’t have the feel that he thought it would.
But with a 13-of-22 performance for 136 yards and two touchdowns to lead No. 12 Iowa to a 39-7 season-opening victory against Kent State Saturday, it was probably just the dehydration talking.
“It didn’t feel like I thought it would,” he said. “It was a good feeling, but I thought it was just going to be so much different and all that stuff. It was great, but after the first snap, everything just settled down.
“It’s not what I expected. I really can’t explain it.”
For Head Coach Kirk Ferentz, the Throwback Game – complete with a retro field design, redesigned uniforms and knickers-clad game managers in recognition of the 75th Anniversary of Kinnick Stadium – seemed more like a diagnostic tool.
“We played with a lot of effort, but there are some things we need to clean up,” he said. “This game will give us a better assessment of what we need to work on.”
Tate, a much-heralded recruit who threw for more than 12,000 yards at Robert E. Lee High School in Baytown, TX, did have an inauspicious start.
Failing to score four times while within 10 yards on the Hawkeyes’ first series, first-year-starter Kyle Schlicher had to salvage a 20-yard field goal to gain an early lead, which Iowa never relinquished.
The following drive didn’t get much better for Tate, with two incomplete passes and a no-gain handoff to redshirt freshman running back Albert Young.
To make matters worse, on the Hawkeyes’ third possession of the game, leading running back Marcus Schnoor suffered an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament while struggling for a two-yard run for Iowa’s fourth first down of the 2004 season. Schnoor was out the rest of the game.
But the series did yield results for the young offense, which surged after Tate made 7-yard completions to Aaron Mickens and Ed Hinkel, and then got into scoring position with a 13-yard option run.
“It didn’t feel like I thought it would. It was a good feeling, but I thought it was just going to be so much different and all that stuff. It was great, but after the first snap, everything just settled down.”
Quarterback Drew Tate
Tate then found junior Matt Melloy in the endzone for a 9-yard touchdown reception with 1:35 left in the first quarter.
Melloy and Tate partnered again with a 4-yard pass with 9:09 left in the first half, which put Iowa up 23-0.
“Things open up for (Melloy),” Tate said. “He finds a way to get in.”
“I think (Tate) came out really well,” Melloy said. “He was ready to go, and I think he showed a lot of poise out there and did a great job.
“Drew finds his reads real quickly, and he gets rid of the ball faster than any quarterback I’ve seen.”
Ed Hinkel led the receiving corps, though, with four catches for a career-best 65 yards, including a 35-yarder on Tate’s first completion of the game.
Kent State’s Jack Williams scored the last touchdown of the first half off of Tate on a third-and-goal slant pass on the 2-yard-line. Williams returned the interception 99 yards for the longest return in school history – besting Jay Littlepage’s 97-yard return against Marietta in 1933.
Young stepped up after Schnoor’s injury to keep the running game alive, with 22 carries for 82 yards and a 1-yard touchdown run in between Melloy’s passes.
Young was forced to miss last season with a broken fibula, and that made him one of the largest question marks for the season opener, especially after being catapulted up the two-deep depth chart following the one-game suspension of Jermelle Lewis.
Like Tate, the Moorestown, NJ-native found that playing in front of a capacity crowd of 70,397 inside historic Kinnick Stadium was not all that different than his previous football experience.
“After that first hit, it’s back to normal and back to the old days,” Young said. “I just let the game flow and come to you.
“I just wanted to go out there and help the team win. That’s all that matters to me. We got a good win today, and I’m confident about it.”
“I thought Albert did a lot of good things,” Ferentz said, “but he ran out of gas a little bit there too – being a young guy and being the first time he’s played.”
Schnoor’s injury was on the forefront of the coach’s mind, however.
“The most unfortunate thing that’s happened today was Marcus Schnoor’s injury,” Ferentz said. “Marcus has worked so hard for us for so long, and he’s done a great job as a running back every time he’s been in there and he’s been an excellent special teams player.
“That’s the most disheartening thing that’s happened today. It’s just a shame.”
Schnoor wasn’t the only player injured on Saturday.
With temperatures at or above 90 degrees throughout the game, several players suffered dehydration, including Tate, who left the game at halftime.
Tate had three intravenous fluid injections throughout the second half and had to fight through several muscle cramps in his back and legs.
“I think he’s probably played this game three times in between practice yesterday and when he got here today,” Ferentz said of Tate. “He’s a little high-strung. He’s one of those guys. And he’s never played here before, and so you couple those things together with the weather, and I think that’s what we’re looking at there.”
“It was pretty bad,” Tate said. “I had knots everywhere. I don’t know how long (I was treated), but it felt really long.”
Eric McCollom, who’s had just a week to prepare to be Tate’s backup following the foot injury of Jason Manson, played the entire second half for Iowa, racking up 87 yards off of five passes, including a 45-yard pass to Clinton Solomon, which was nearly picked off by Kent State’s Usama Young.
“I was expecting to come in late in the game when we were up a lot, get a couple of snaps here and there,” McCollom said. “But with Tate coming out, I had to step in. And the offense supported me. They were with me the entire time.”
With all the trials and tribulations on offense, it was the defense – sans senior coordinator Norm Parker, who is in hospital with vascular issues – that really kept Kent State at bay.
The Golden Flashes had 110 yards of total offense, including -13 rushing.
“It’s something we definitely wanted to do,” junior linebacker Chad Greenway said. “We want to hold them down as much as we can, especially against a team like Kent State so we can get rolling a little bit.”
Greenway shined with the first two interceptions of his career, returning the first for 24 yards and almost for a touchdown.
“I saw the ref spot it, so I knew I didn’t get it but I was just happy I got an interception,” he said.
The second time was a charm for Greenway, who snagged his second for a 30-yard TD and the final score of the game.
Greenway’s touchdown return was the first time a player’s interception has scored since Derek Pagel returned an interception for 62 yards against Michigan State in 2002.
Greenway finished with 10 tackles, including two for a loss and one pass breakup. He also blocked his second career punt in the third quarter.
“He’s a high-energy guy and he has a knack for being around the football,” Ferentz said of Greenway. “He put pressure on the quarterback and that put some pressure on the guards too.”
“He’s a high-energy guy and he has a knack for being around the football. He put pressure on the quarterback and that put some pressure on the guards too.”
Head Coach Kirk Ferentz on Chad Greenway
Preseason all-American defensive end Matt Roth also led the defense with one sack for an 8-yard loss and two quarterback hits. Derreck Robinson and Jonathan Babineaux also got sacks in the game.
“We pitched a shutout,” Roth said. “I did all right. They gave me a lot of looks I normally don’t see, a lot of double teams, but I think I played pretty good.”
Greenway’s blocked punt set up Schlicher’s second field goal of the game – a 33-yard attempt.
Schlicher was pleased with his first start.
“I went out there and it felt very comfortable and natural,” he said. “It felt like I hadn’t been sitting out for two years. This is what I’ve been doing for a long time, and it felt good.”
That result is probably just what Coach Ferentz wanted in his season opener – a chance for his inexperienced players to get the best feel they could for the collegiate game.
“That game experience is so, so important,” he said. “This is a real good start for those guys. We have a lot of work to do. I felt out guys played flexible, and we’ll see a lot of things on tape that we can correct. For that group especially, this will be a big week.”
Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com