Wine Online: Another Trip to Ames

Sept. 5, 2005

Iowa’s 56-0 victory in its football opener convincingly proved that Kirk Ferentz and his staff have a lot of good, well-coached players.

Yes, I know. Ball State was a 39-point underdog that was further weakened when 13 players were suspended on the eve of the game because of NCAA rules violations.

The Iowa players knew that, too. Still, they were sharp and focused, and gave a crisp performance when some teams might have assumed a “let’s get this thing over with” attitude against an inferior opponent.

How focused were they? In less than 18 minutes they ran up a 35-0 lead and many of the starters – including the quarterback, the wide receivers and the top two tailbacks — retired to the sideline, done for the day.

It was in the final 42 minutes that it became obvious Ferentz has a lot of good, well-coached players. Reserves, many of them deep reserves, finished the contest, and they did so with the same resolve and crispness as was demonstrated by the starters.

This might have been mop-up time for some teams, but the Iowa subs did not go out and slop around. They had no penalties and only one fumble. The score mounted to 49-0 by halftime, and the Iowa coaches limited their charges to very basic football in the final two quarters.

Still, the offense moved the ball enough to score another touchdown. And the defense remained strong. Ball State had but one first down at halftime, only two after three quarters. The visitors never got in position to try a field goal. The Hawkeyes didn’t punt until the fourth quarter.

When the game ended, seven Iowa players had scored touchdowns, three quarterbacks had completed 19 of 20 passes, 10 receivers had caught passes, and eight running backs had carried the ball.

A whopping total of 31 players are listed on the tackle chart. At the top with six is Devan Moylan, a defensive back whose name is not familiar to most Iowa fans.

Iowa had 241 yards rushing, more than it did in any game last year when it topped 100 yards only three times. The offense had the ball eight times in the first half and scored seven touchdowns. For the game, it was six for six in the red zone.

The Hawkeye faithful especially liked what they saw of backup quarterback Jason Manson and freshman tailback Shonn Green. Manson threw nine times without a misfire, and led the reserves on three touchdown drives.

Green, who Hayden Fry would call “a rolling ball of butcher knives,” topped 100 yards in his first game as a Hawkeye. He averaged 6.4 yards on 18 carries, and powered into the end zone for a touchdown.

Iowa had 241 yards rushing, more than it did in any game last year when it topped 100 yards only three times. The offense had the ball eight times in the first half and scored seven touchdowns. For the game, it was six for six in the red zone.

The only incomplete pass was a deep post-pattern on which Drew Tate barely overthrew Ed Hinkel at the goal line.

Iowa is breaking in a new defensive line that appears to be quicker and faster, but not as big and strong as last year’s rugged unit. Ball State averaged only 1.5 yards on 34 rushing plays, an amazingly low average considering the amount of time reserves were on the field.

When Iowa finally had to punt in the fourth quarter, John Gallery and Andy Fenstermaker boomed kicks of 45 and 47 yards, respectively.

Ferentz, a coach who always keeps a victory in perspective, said the big early margin had its pros and cons. He would have liked his regulars to get more playing time in the opener. On the other hand, it provided a good opportunity for his younger players to gain experience and eliminate some anxiety.

And after winning his 19th straight game at Kinnick Stadium, Ferentz this week will prepare his team for its first important test of the season – at Iowa State this Saturday.

The experienced Cyclones are coming off a good season, but they had a different type of opener than the Hawkeyes. While Iowa was dispatching Ball State with efficiency and authority, Iowa State struggled mightily with Illinois State, considered an ordinary Division 1-AA team. The score was 32-21, and the outcome was not decided until late in the game.

Former Iowa State Coach Jim Walden, who does a weekly talk show on WHO Radio, thinks the Cyclones’ narrow escape will work to their advantage this week. It will serve as a wake-up call to the players and will help them focus on the Hawkeyes, he says.

That may be, but the larger question is this – Are Iowa State’s players as good and well-coached as Iowa’s? We’ll know the answer to that late Saturday afternoon.

Editor’s Note: George Wine, the University of Iowa’s long-time sports information director who is now retired and living in Coralville, Iowa, is the author of George Wine Online. George has remained very close to the intercollegiate athletics program at the UI since his retirement and, in fact, has authored two books during that time. The first was a collaboration with the UI’s long-time head football coach, Hayden Fry, and named “A High Porch Picnic.” The second, “Black & Gold Memories, The Hawkeyes of the 20th Century,” included many of the essays George originally wrote for “The Voice of the Hawkeyes.” As he wrote in the book, “Collectively, they serve as a historical reference, and hopefully provide entertaining reading.” “Black & Gold Memories” is currently available at Barnes & Noble book stores across Iowa and on the world wide web.

George Wine