Sept. 8, 2007
IOWA CITY — Kirk Ferentz was 10 minutes into his post-game interview with the Hawkeye Radio Network’s Gary Dolphin and Ed Podolak before he talked about his defense and, specifically, the play Bryan Mattison.
The senior defensive end was credited with six tackles – a career-high three quarterback sacks and three tackles for loss – in helping the Hawkeye defense pitch a shutout of visiting Syracuse in the UI’s debut performance in Kinnick Stadium for 2007 and on the Big Ten Network.
It wasn’t that Ferentz didn’t appreciate the night of work turned in by Mattison. No. The radio crew just had too many other “Hawkeye positives” to ask Ferentz about.
“There’s not much I can say about Bryan,” Ferentz said with appreciation. “He just go so hard all the time. Doesn’t matter if it’s practice or a game. He just goes and goes.
“Bryan’s a lot like Aaron Kampman,” he added. “He’s just a tremendous team leader who is very highly respected by all members of the team and coaching staff.”
Kampman was an all-Big Ten defender for Iowa in the early 2000s. He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers and has since earned all-Pro status as a mainstay in the Packer defensive line.
Mattison’s teammates on defense were brilliant. The Orange didn’t get into double digits in positive offensive yardage until the second half of their visit to Iowa City. In fact, the Orange didn’t register their first first down until six minutes into the third quarter.
Iowa allowed SU only 103 total yard, the best defensive performance by a Kirk Ferentz-coached Hawkeye squad. It was also the Hawkeyes’ first shutout since blanking Ball State 56-0 in the 2005 season opener.
“Our defense just kept putting us back on the field,” offered UI quarterback Jake Christensen. “I’ve never seen more three-and-outs than I saw tonight.”
Christensen and the Hawkeyes took full advantage of the UI defensive unit’s handiwork, too. Iowa’s southpaw signal caller completed 23 of 32 passes for 278 yards and four touchdowns – all career bests.
“Jake played well. He took another significant step forward,” said Ferentz.
Christensen connected with Tony Moeaki on three touchdowns, the first covering 52 yards and provided Iowa a quick 7-0 lead. Moeaki’s eight receptions, 112 yards and three scores were all personal bests.
“We have always had great feelings about Tony. He’s a tremendous young man with a lot of talent,” Ferentz said of Iowa’s No. 1 tight end.
“We’re going to need guys like Tony, Andy (Brodell), our running backs and Jake to contribute each game to have a chance.”
“We’re going to need guys like Tony, Andy (Brodell), our running backs and Jake to contribute each game to have a chance,” added Ferentz, who, once again, was complimentary of the fans of the Hawkeyes.
“Another great environment,” he said of the 25th consecutive sellout at Kinnick. “It was unbelievable when we pulled up to the Krause (Family) Plaza…gold-clad fans everywhere. What a sight.
“And, quite honestly, these night games, well, they are pretty neat.”
As good as the night started, it ended with the Hawkeyes having not allowed a touchdown in back-to-back games for the first time ever under Ferentz.
“We played well. Now, we have to turn our attention to the next one,” he said.
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