Sept. 14, 2007
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IOWA CITY — It’s extremely doubtful that Kirk Ferentz is buying much of the “Steel Curtain” analogies being tossed about these days when talk turns to the nationally ranked defense of the University of Iowa football team.
There’s no question that Ferentz and UI Defensive Coordinator Norm Parker are pleased with the performance of the unit in Iowa’s season-opening victories against Northern Illinois and Syracuse. They certainly couldn’t argue the facts:
Iowa has allowed only three points, a measly 45 yards on the ground and only 79 yards through the air.
Last Saturday against the Orange, the Hawkeyes didn’t surrender a first down until almost six minutes into the second half and allowed only five in the game.
Iowa’s defenders have been relentless, racking up nine sacks and 17 tackles for loss in two games.
Impressive? Yes. Steel Curtain-like? Time will tell.
“Obviously, the guys up front are doing a good job. They are really working hard and working well. I know that much,” Ferentz said earlier this week.
“I think the defensive unit as a group is playing hard and playing well together. They’re looking out for each other. We’re not making too many errors right now and that’s something we need to continue to do. We’re also not giving up the big play.”
Ferentz said the bar will be raised for the Hawkeyes Saturday when the travel to Iowa State for the 55th meeting against their intrastate rival. Game time is set for 12:30 p.m. (Iowa time) in Jack Trice Stadium. A crowd of approximately 46,000 is expected to be in attendance.
“Obviously, this is a big game for all involved and we know it will be a tough environment to play in. Experience says this will be a challenging trip. Our job this week is to get ready for it and then execute.”
“(Iowa State) is capable of making big plays. Certain, we’ve seen firsthand what Bret Meyer and Todd Blythe can do,” Ferentz said of the Cyclones.
“When you get in a game like this (with an intrastate rival),” he continued. “It’s almost a bowl (game) atmosphere intensity level or playoff intensity level. By the very nature of the game you know the intensity is going to be a little increased.”
Iowa will be seeking its fourth win in the last five games and to secure three points in the annual Hy-Vee Cy-Hawk Series. And despite the team records – Iowa enters unbeaten in two games while the Cyclones are 0-2 after having dropped consecutive home games – Ferentz says history indicates a 60-minute battle for state college gridiron braggin’ rights.
“Obviously, this is a big game for all involved and we know it will be a tough environment to play in. Experience says this will be a challenging trip. Our job this week is to get ready for it and then execute,” he said.
The game will be televised live by the Versus Network , a television partner of the Big 12 Conference. It is also the third of four non-conference games Ferentz’s squad will play in 2007. The Hawkeyes entertain Western Michigan in their fourth and final non-conference game on Nov. 17 in Kinnick Stadium.
Iowa opens its 2007 Big Ten Conference schedule next Saturday, Sept. 22, against Wisconsin in Madison that is scheduled to begin shortly after 7 p.m. Iowa time. ABC-TV will televise the game live.
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