Lunch-Box Mentality

Oct. 21, 2009

Complete Coach Ferentz Press Conference Transcript

Editor’s Note: The following article first appeared in the Oct. 19 edition of the Official Sports Report (OSR) for the University of Iowa. OSR is a daily e-newsletter exclusively about the Iowa Hawkeyes. Click HERE to learn more.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — In 1972, the Miami Dolphins capped an undefeated, Super Bowl championship season with a batch of players on one side of the ball affectionately known as the No-Name Defense. Thirty-seven years later, the University of Iowa football team is unscathed after seven weeks, thanks to production from a relatively anonymous group of student-athletes.

Check that. It’s not that the Hawkeye players are unknowns per se, but the way they go about extending their Saturday winning ways is more of a workmanlike, blue collar approach than it is glitz and glitter.

Before Saturday, the last time Hawkeye fans saw Amari Spievey intercept a pass, he returned it 57 yards for a touchdown during a 55-0 victory over Minnesota in the Metrodome last November. That was certainly a dagger that severely bewildered the Golden Gophers. On Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium, Spievey did it again. This time it was a relatively innocent-looking out pattern on the fifth play of the second half. Spievey cradled the interception into his stomach while falling to the turf.

“Some guys stepped up and made some big plays in the second half,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Today it was a bunch of guys, but Amari’s pick kind of got us going a little bit.”

Four minutes, 37-seconds after the first of two Spievey interceptions, Hawkeye quarterback Ricky Stanzi found tight end Tony Moeaki in the back of the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown pass, tying the game, 10-10.

Spievey’s interception was not one you’ll see on many highlight reels. But in a game of 120 plays, it was one of the most significant.

“It took a lot of guys making big plays and for them to keep pushing forward,” Ferentz said. “They don’t seem to get too affected by anything that happens. That’s what it takes to win. You need guys to really step up and give you great effort.”

The last time Hawkeye fans saw Derrell Johnson-Koulianos in Madison, Wis., he made a phenomenal 21-yard touchdown reception before halftime to give Iowa a 10-7 lead against the then-No. 9 Badgers in 2007. That was a highlight reel reception — in a game that ended as a 17-13 loss. On Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium, Johnson-Koulianos did it again. This time he was without a lone show-stopping video highlight. What Johnson-Koulianos provided on this day were game-high totals of eight receptions for 113 yards. There were no touchdowns, but four of those pass receptions moved the first-down chains…and the Hawkeyes won the game, 20-10.

“This group has really picked up where last year’s group left off and maybe added to it,” Ferentz said. “It speaks well to the players that we have. They’re fantastic young people believing in each other and caring about each other. That’s the reason we’re having success right now, because we’re certainly not the prettiest car on the lot. That’s OK. We’re having a lot of fun.”

Certainly not the prettiest car on the lot.

It is a group that has bought into the team mentality, where moving the chains on third down is more significant than posing for cameras during an end zone celebration. The 2009 Iowa Hawkeyes may not look like a luxury vehicle. Instead, they’re more like a dependable ride that keeps chugging along mile, after mile after mile.

Like a football team that compiles win, after win, after win.