Oct. 19, 2007
IOWA CITY — Two redshirt freshmen assumed key roles last Saturday at historic Kinnick Stadium in what could be a season-altering play for the Iowa football team. The pivotal snap involved the hands of Iowa’s Brett Greenwood and the eyes of Illinois quarterback Eddie McGee.
Greenwood intercepted a pass in the Hawkeye end zone with 72 seconds left to play to preserve Iowa’s 10-6 victory — its first over a nationally ranked opponent in three seasons. The win also snapped a four-game losing streak and an eight-game skid in Big Ten games for the Hawkeyes.
“Illinois was in shot gun and Coach Phil Parker told Harold (Dalton) and me to basically read the quarterback,” Greenwood said. “Coach told us that wherever he takes you with his eyes, just go with it. It happened so fast but actually (McGee) led me to the right place at the right time.”
Could it be that a relative Hawkeye newcomer will provide the spark Iowa needs to assemble an extended winning streak? Iowa (3-4 overall, 1-3 Big Ten) travels to West Lafayette, Ind., on Oct. 20 to play Purdue.
“That would be great if that (Illinois) game gave us some momentum and started the ball rolling,” Greenwood said. “Hopefully it can carry over to the rest of the season. It was great seeing all the happy faces in the locker room. I think we finally got over the hump.”
It was the second interception in two games for Greenwood, who made his first collegiate start at free safety at Penn State on Oct. 6.
“These have been two good football games for me to get used to a college football environment,” Greenwood said. “Especially going into Penn State with 100,000 people there. The more game experience you get, it becomes more relaxing and you’re more confident doing what you’re doing and it helps you go out and play well.”
“That would be great if that (Illinois) game gave us some momentum and started the ball rolling. Hopefully it can carry over to the rest of the season. It was great seeing all the happy faces in the locker room. I think we finally got over the hump.”
Iowa free safety Brett Greenwood
Greenwood, a native of Bettendorf, Iowa, was a prep standout at Pleasant Valley High School, where he participated in football, basketball and track. The 6-foot, 200-pounder is one of 29 first-year players to see football game action on either offense, defense or special teams this season. He is also the only redshirt freshman on the team’s leadership council. Greenwood joins a long list of successful walk-ons to the Hawkeye program.
“My first goal was to be on special teams and try to make an impact there,” Greenwood said. “Anything after that would be a bonus.”
In six games this season Greenwood has made 13 tackles (five solo, eight assists) with one tackle for loss, two interceptions for 12 yards and two pass breakups. The Iowa defense has forced 15 turnovers in the first seven games.
Now the Hawkeyes will be challenged by the pass-happy Boilermakers (5-2, 1-2), who are attempting to end a two-game losing streak. Purdue averages 36.4 points and 295.7 passing yards per game.
“I’m excited because a defensive back will be more involved in the game against a passing team,” Greenwood said. “Purdue is a team we’re going to have to focus on and be prepared for. They have a great quarterback in Curtis Painter.”
Painter has completed 63.2 percent of his passes for 19 touchdowns. He averages 274.7 passing yards per game and has thrown just five interceptions.
During the preseason, Iowa coaches warned that the young Hawkeyes would make remarkable plays, but at times they would be prone to mistakes. Greenwood has been no exception.
“You just learn from your mistakes and move on,” he said. “That’s all you can really do — watch film and see what you did wrong so hopefully you can correct whatever you did wrong and do it right the next week.”
Just as a young team can not dwell on the valleys during the course of a season, neither can it get too high over the peaks. Greenwood said that “great leaders” on the team have made sure everyone is looking to improve this week.
“We watched films on Sunday and after we got done, we just set that game aside and were ready to move on,” Greenwood said. “We have good leadership and they keep us focused. They’ll make sure we’re ready this week.”
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