Another Happy Trip to Happy Valley?

Oct. 21, 2004

So where does the No. 25 Iowa team go after a major 33-7 win over much-rivaled Ohio State? On the road again. Specifically, Happy Valley, PA.

Iowa (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) takes on Penn State (2-4, 0-3) at 11:05 CDT inside Beaver Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

The Hawkeyes are 11-20 in all road games (including bowl games) in Head Coach Kirk Ferentz’s tenure, but they have defeated Penn State twice on Nittany Lions’ home turf in close overtime games. Moreover, Ferentz is 4-1 against PSU – his best record against any team in the Big Ten.

How can he account for the success?

“I think we’ve been fortunate,” Ferentz said. “Our guys have played well, first and foremost. But if you have any success against anybody in our conference, it takes a bit of good fortune. It’s a pretty competitive conference.”

But what about Iowa’s record on the road? Sure, the last few years have been good to the Hawkeyes, but all the losses last year were away from Kinnick. Is it in the plane or the bus ride? The time the team arrives? Or is the secret to a road win something else entirely?

“I told the guys there’s nothing magical about it,” Ferentz said. “There’s no voodoo or what have you. In my mind, it gets down more to preparation and how we perform, not so much how we get to the game or at what time. That’s, to me, irrelevant.

“It all comes down to our preparation and our performance.”

And according to Ferentz, the last few trips to State College have been instructive – the slim margins of victory not withstanding.

“I think the lesson we learned is that you have to go in prepared and play well,” the coach said. “If we do our jobs, this is going to be a 60-minute ballgame, and if we don’t, it could be 30. We better be ready to go, I know that.”

One stat that is particularly telling, according to Ferentz, is the number of blocked field goals or points after touchdown in the past few years. The Nittany Lions have stopped four scoring opportunities by Iowa kickers.

“That’s a pretty unusual number,” Ferentz said. “I think it tells you that they pay attention to detail, and they get good effort.”

Ferentz noted that NFL kicker and former Hawkeye Nate Kaeding had two of his kicks blocked by PSU in his career.

“As I told somebody, that’s OK, the Chargers don’t have Penn State on their schedule,” Ferentz said. “Nate won’t have to worry about that one.”

“I think we’ve been fortunate. Our guys have played well, first and foremost. But if you have any success against anybody in our conference, it takes a bit of good fortune. It’s a pretty competitive conference.”
Head Coach Kirk Ferentz on his wins against PSU

Sophomore place kicker Kyle Schlicher will have to worry about the Nittany Lions’ special teams, however. But Coach Ferentz says the rookie starter is growing into his role.

“He’s getting better,” Ferentz said. “If we’re going to keep getting better as a football team, he’ll have to get better. But he’s like all young players, we hope he matures with the experience he’s getting. And I think he’s making an effort at it.”

Kirk Ferentz’s Father Passes Away
John Ferentz, aged 84, died last Sunday in Asbury Heights, PA. Ferentz, father of Iowa coach Kirk and grandfather of right guard Brian Ferentz, graduated from Albion College, was a member of the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity, and was a World War II veteran. Coach Ferentz and his family have already departed to Asbury Heights, but they will rejoin the team Friday before Iowa takes on Penn State. Click here to sign the online guestbook.

The Injury Report
There’s no way around it – Iowa’s had an unusual year of injuries, Ferentz said on Tuesday. Iowa’s lost four running backs in six games, three to ACL injuries and the latest, Marques Simmons, to an unknown ankle injury.

Ferentz reported Tuesday than an X-ray that Simmons had on Monday was inconclusive and that the junior running back would undergo an MRI later that day. The coach said he wouldn’t speculate on the nature of the injury, however, he did intimate that Simmons may be out for the rest of the season.

“We’re not sure exactly what’s going on there,” the coach said. “It’s always tough, especially with running backs. We’re looking at a couple of weeks – best case scenario.”

Wide receiver Calvin Davis, who was injured during the Michigan State game, underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair the patella tendon. Ferentz said he hadn’t practiced the last two weeks and the knee “hadn’t responded” to treatment. The sophomore will be out the remainder of the season.

“It’s a shame when anyone gets hurt, but he was growing and doing a nice job for us,” Ferentz said, “and he has worked real hard to try to get back. But it wasn’t in the cards.”

On the positive side, Ferentz reported that safety Sean Considine, offensive linesman Ben Gates and linebacker Mike Humpal are closer to rejoining the team.

“We won’t be sure any of those three will play this week,” he said, “but I think they may have a chance. We’ll work them in on a limited basis, and we’ll go from there. We’ll know more as the week goes on.”

Linesman Derreck Robinson and linebacker Abdul Hodge will lead the defense, and Brian Ferentz and Ed Hinkel will lead the offense on Saturday. Robinson has 26 tackles on the year and two sacks. Hodge has 55 tackles on the year and two pass breakups.

Barry Pump,