Tate Returns With a Big Bang

Sept. 17, 2006

Any college football fan in Iowa City or Iowa or, for that matter, in the country curious if a week off was going to slow down Drew Tate, the field general of the nationally ranked Iowa Hawkeyes, got their answer Saturday.

Tate, a senior from Baytown, Texas, completed 26 of 38 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns in guiding the Hawkeyes, who will travel to Illinois Saturday as the No. 14 team in this week’s Associated Press Top 25, to a 27-17 victory over intrastate rival Iowa State Saturday to the absolute delight of a thoroughly pumped sellout crowd of 70,000-plus inside historic Kinnick Stadium.

Tate also carried the ball five times for another 31 yards. Not a bad afternoon for a guy who missed Iowa’s double-overtime victory a week ago at Syracuse with a strained abdominal muscle. That miss snapped a streak of 25 straight starts for the fiery Tate.

To say he came back strong both mentally and physically would be a serious understatement.

“I just knew that if I could play within myself, everything else would take care of itself,” said Tate, the first-team all-Big Ten quarterback two seasons ago when Iowa advanced to to the third of four straight January bowl games.

“Any time you get a player like Drew Tate or Albert Young back in there, it makes a huge difference,” said UI Head Coach Kirk Ferentz. He indicated that conserving Tate last week helped keep his arm fresh.

“He was limited on Tuesday, but pretty much went full speed from Wednesday on and was really throwing the ball well,” said Iowa’s head coach.

And throw he did against the Cyclones, finding nine receivers, including seasoned players like Scott Chandler, who made a great catch of a 27-yard pass from Tate in the second quarter. Tate then threw for 11 yards to Andy Brodell for the touchdown that trimmed ISU’s halftime lead to 14-10.

“I think that was really the momentum swing,” said Tate of ending the first half with a statement and momentum..

In the third quarter, Dominique Douglas caught a sharp sideline pass from Tate for a 24-yard gain and a first down on Iowa’s second possession. The drive resulted in a 19-yard touchdown pass to Tony Moeaki that knotted the game at 17-all. It was Moeaki’s first reception for touchdown.

“I think he has grown. He looks more comfortable out there than I’ve ever seen him.”
Kirk Ferentz on senior quarterback Drew Tate

Tate wasn’t surprised to see the Cyclone defense poised to force the Hawkeyes beat them with the pass. Eight or nine defenders were customary on the line of scrimmage each time Tate took center stage.

“We figured they were going to load the box, and force us to throw and make those young receivers beat ’em,” Tate said.

Iowa ended the third quarter with the team getting first downs on Tate’s pass to Douglas and his own carry. At the start of the fourth quarter, Tate popped a short touchdown pass to Tom Busch for the Hawkeyes’ first lead in the game, 24-7.

Iowa added a 44-yard field goal late in the final stanza to secure the victory, the Hawkeyes’ third in the last four meetings with their intrastate rival.

“It was a win, it was a big win, and we’re excited,” said Tate, recognizing the “very emotional” aspect of the game in light of the death of teammate Mike Klinkenborg’s father.

In addition, an injury ended Calvin Davis’ season and Marcus Paschal was sidelined due to a sore neck. Tate recognized his fellow seniors by scrawling their numbers on his arm.

“I’ve been on some good teams in my life, but as far as this team…there’s more team chemistry than any team I’ve ever been on,” said Tate.

He credited the offense in particular for pulling together. “It’s a lot easier playing with 11 guys in as one,” he said.

“It starts with how Hawkeyes feel about each other, and what they’re willing to do for each other. I think we’re on the right path,” said Ferentz.

Ferentz said Tate, as quarterback, is a big part of the team. “I think he has grown. He looks more comfortable out there than I’ve ever seen him.”

Iowa State Head Coach Dan McCarney is all but president of the Drew Tate Fan Club.

“Tate was outstanding,” he said. “What a tremendous young man, a leader, a competitor. He elevates the play of everyone around him offensively and defensively.”