Tate Impresses

Sept. 26, 2004

Kirk Ferentz likes his quarterback. So, too, do others.

“Tell you one thing,” Ferentz said shortly after Iowa’s 30-17 defeat at nationally ranked Michigan Saturday, the Hawkeyes’ first in three years against one of the nation’s most storied college football programs.

“I’m not worried about Drew Tate. He’s one guy I know is going to be there every week.”

Iowa will entertain Michigan State Saturday at historic Knnick Stadium. Game time is set for shortly after 11 a.m. A very limited number of tickets are available.

Ferentz need not worry. Tate, Iowa’s first-year starter at quarterback, opened his first experience in the much-hyped “Big House” with eight straight completions and ended the contest with 24 completions in 32 attempts.

Included in his throws was a nifty 2-yarder to Ed Hinkel in the left flat that came on the end of an impressive 7-play, 75-yard drive that opened the game and gave Iowa a 7-0 lead.

Tate also hooked up with Hinkel for the game’s final score, a 10-yard dart that came after the Texan almost had has head torn off by a charging Wolverine.

Sure, Tate had two interceptions and probably should have tossed the pigskin away a couple times to avoid losses. But, taken as a whole, it would be hard to argue that the Texan’s first start in a Big Ten Conference road game wasn’t significantly more positive than negative. Simply put – while he wasn’t perfect – he looked mighty impressive.

“He’s going to be a great Big Ten quarterback before he’s done,” Gary Danielson declared during ABC-TV’s coverage of the game.

Tate sounded exactly how a quarterback whose team came up short on the scoreboard after the final gun should sound during the post-game media session — another reason why Ferentz and others are so high on the high-strung righthander.

“I feel better by the way we played,” said Tate. “But we still lost.”

Lost, yes. But, make not mistake, there was progress made. Iowa scored on drives of 75, 79 and 80 yards. The offensive line gave its quarterback time to throw and it also showed signs of giving Iowa’s running backs more than a sliver of daylight to run through.

“We competed better today. We showed signs of life,” Ferentz said.

“Obviously, we have to grow more and faster to have a chance. But we at least looked more like an offensive unit today.”

Part of the reason was the guys on the receiving end of Tate’s spirals. Hinkel had a team-high seven catches for 89 yards and Iowa’s two touchdowns. However, he wasn’t a one man show.

Wideout Clinton Solomon showed more development and the potential to be a game-breaker with four catches for 64 yards. Tight end Tony Jackson made two nice grabs up the middle and had three catches for 61 yards for the game.

Ferentz said the Hawkeyes’ game plan was built on an even distribution between run and pass, but, more importantly, Iowa would take what the opponent gave them.

Iowa now turns its attention to its 2004 Homecoming game opponent, Michigan State. The Spartans opened Big Ten play with a decisive victory over Indiana.

The Hawkeyes have MSU at home, however, where they’re riding a 14-game winning streak. Game time is set for shortly after 11 a.m. inside historic Kinnick Stadium. A limited number of tickets are available.