Sept. 21, 2007
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IOWA CITY — It was a kick that Austin Signor has probably made hundreds of times in practices and games – a 41-yarder from the right hash mark, a comfortable distance for the strong-legged right-footed side-winder.
It’s unlikely, however, that Signor, the University of Iowa’s rookie placekicker, ever had this kick – a 41-yarder, from the right hash mark, into a 20-mile per hour wind, against his team’s intrastate rival, on their turf, before 40,000 of their fans, to give his team the lead on what would in all likelihood be their last possession.
Signor nailed the kick, splitting the uprights with just 3:38 left on the game clock to give Iowa a 13-12 lead against Iowa State last Saturday afternoon in wind-swept Jack Trice Field.
And, while the three-pointer proved to not be the game-winner it appeared to be when it gave Iowa its first lead in this year’s battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy, UI Head Coach Kirk Ferentz probably isn’t as curious about the Hawkeyes’ kicking game today as he might have been two or three weeks ago.
“Hopefully, (his 41-yard field goal at Iowa State) will give him confidence. He’s been struggling a little bit and he’s a much better kicker than he’s shown. Now that he’s made a big kick in a pressure situation, the next one will come a little easier.”
Kirk Ferentz on UI placekicker
Fact is, it was a big kick. An important kick. A kick that big-time placekickers dream of. In fact, big-time placekickers want that kick.
A difference-maker in a big-time game before a raucous crowd.
And Austin Signor, Iowa’s sophomore placekicker from Urbandale, delivered.
“I thought Austin’s field goal to put us up was a huge play. Not only at that time of the game, but huge for him,” Ferentz said during his weekly news conference on Tuesday.
“Hopefully, that’s something that will give him confidence. He’s been struggling a little bit and he’s a much better kicker than he’s shown. Now that he’s made a big kick in a pressure situation, the next one will come a little easier.”
Signor enters his second true road game – Saturday’s prime time date with Wisconsin in Madison – batting .600 in 2007, his first season as Iowa’s first string placekicker. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound product of Urbandale High School was perfect on two attempts last year when he filled in for Kyle Schlicher.
It’s likely that Ferentz sees the 2007 Hawkeyes when he sees Austin Signor: In each case, Iowa’s veteran head coach likes what he sees but is reluctant to pass judgment after three games or, for that matter, after four or five games.
“I don’t feel a lot different (about this team) than I did last week or two weeks ago or three weeks ago. I really like this football team. We`ve got a lot of guys who are working extremely hard,” said Ferentz, pointing to strong leadership from a senior class that is small in number.
“We have a great opportunity this week. Whether we win this week or lose, the season’s not going to be over. We have nine more laps to run,” Ferentz continued.
“As a coach you have to resist doing what the general public does, which is to try to decide everything after two games, three games or one game. In Southern Cal’s situation, you might have a better chance. In our situation, I don’ know if that’s a very prudent approach.”
Ferentz said he’ll have a good sense of what the 2007 Hawkeyes are really all about in about a month. “I’m not worried about it. I feel good about things,” he said flatly.
Former UI all-American Nate Kaeding was a guest on the Hawkeye Radio Network’s pre-game show last Saturday and he has little to no concerns about the Hawkeyes’ kicking game or the Hawkeyes for that matter.
“I wasn’t as solid my first year as I was my senior year. It takes work and commitment and, based on the time that I’ve spent around him and this year’s team, they’ve got their nose to the grindstone and know what they want to accomplish and are going to be just fine,” said the all-Pro who now kicks on Sundays for the San Diego Chargers.
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