Hinkel Thriving at Tate's New Go-To Guy

June 26, 2005

hawkeyesports.com note: The following was written by Marc Morehouse and first appeared in Oct. 31, 2004 editions of the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

Quarterback Drew Tate got a little weird when asked if Ed Hinkel was his first option Saturday.

This isn’t rocket science. There are no secrets after Saturday.

The Iowa junior wideout’s stats said he was the first option, first read and most reliable offensive weapon in the No. 23 Hawkeyes’ 23-13 victory over Illinois.

“I’m just doing my job out there. There are 10 other guys out there. They’re probably not noticed as much, but they’re making plays, too.”
UI Wide Receiver Ed Hinkel

“I don’t know, two times he was the first option, probably,” Tate joked.

Hinkel caught five passes for a career-high 108 yards. He was probably the first read on his two 19-yard touchdown receptions.

“Well, he probably was on those,” Tate said.

Whatever read Hinkel is for Iowa’s offense, he’s been a good read. After missing six games with a groin injury last season, the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder is clearly on a mission.

So far this season, Hinkel has 37 catches for 527 yards and six TDs. Last year, he caught just 10 passes. After starting all 12 games as a red-shirt freshman, Hinkel got hurt in Iowa’s fourth game against Arizona State. He didn’t do anything meaningful until the Outback Bowl, a nine-game stretch that pretty much ruined Hinkel’s sophomore year.

“It’s nice being able to be out there and be healthy,” Hinkel said. “It was so frustrating last year. I worked hard this summer on trying to get healthy and it’s all paying off now.”

After the Hawkeyes fell behind 7-0 Saturday, Hinkel caught three passes for 67 yards to spur Iowa’s first scoring drive. He caught a 32-yard post route to move the Hawkeyes from their own 8 to their 40. On third-and-8 from the Illinois 19, Hinkel took a slant pattern through heavy traffic to tie the score.

“I’m just doing my job out there,” Hinkel said. “There are 10 other guys out there. They’re probably not noticed as much, but they’re making plays, too.”

With 11:28 left in the third quarter, Hinkel gave the Hawkeyes the lead for good.

On third-and-7 from the Fighting Illini’s 19, Tate hit Hinkel on a short crossing route. Wideout Warren Holloway drilled Illinois linebacker Matt Sinclair to spring Hinkel for the TD.

Iowa offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe saw something he liked in Illinois coverage. Hinkel beat Illinois corners to the inside all day.

“The underneath stuff was open because their linebackers were dropping too far,” Tate said. “That was good route running and good play calling.”

For an offense that is running out of running backs, Hinkel and the rest of Iowa’s receivers are doing their best running back imitations.

With fullback Champ Davis likely out for the year with a torn ACL, the Hawkeyes have lost a running back to a season-ending injury in five of eight games. Fullback Aaron Mickens was also knocked out Saturday with a concussion.

Davis’ ACL injury gives Iowa four running backs with torn ACLs.

“It’s not even funny anymore,” said Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz. “It wasn’t ever funny, but it’s really a concern. We’re really thin.”

So Iowa does whatever it takes, and mostly that’s Tate, who completed 24 of 34 for 243 yards and two TDs Saturday. Tate got on a roll in the first half. And that allowed the passing game to open up the Illini defense for just enough rushing yards (76 on 36 carries) to keep it honest.

Iowa’s passing attack wasn’t vertical; it was controlled and high percentage. Outside of Hinkel’s 32-yard grab, Iowa’s longest reception was a dump pass that running back Sam Brownlee turned into a 22-yard gain.

“We just have to find a way to get it done each and every week,” Ferentz said. “That’s the kind of football team we are and there’s nothing wrong with that.”