Hawkeyes, A-Rob Roll Under Sunny Skies, 37-7

Sept. 4, 2010

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The season opener for the 2010 Iowa Hawkeyes could very easily be defined as a coaching staff’s dream.

As expected, Kirk Ferentz’s nationally ranked squad had little difficulty putting its first notch in the victory column, handily collecting a 37-7 victory over a determined but out-talented Eastern Illinois team before another sellout crowd inside historic Kinnick Stadium, a group that – like the teams – enjoyed brilliant sunshine and temperatures that had a difficult time busting past 70 degrees.

As expected, Iowa’s highlighted touted defense was solid, very solid. The Panthers collected only six first downs, 157 yards of total offense and a measly 65 yards on the ground. The Hawkeyes also collected a pair of sacks.

On offense, the Hawkeyes were at their very best in their very first possession, a crisp 6-play, 66-yard touchdown drive that included three completions by quarterback Ricky Stanzi and three carries by Adam Robinson, who put the exclamation point on the drive when he dove in from two yards out to give the home team a lead in never relinquished.

Stanzi, who completed 18 of his 23 attempts for 229 yards and a touchdown, did what he did so well last year: He spread it around, hooking up with eight different receivers including no fewer than three different tight ends, a group that featured Zach Derby, son of former Hawkeye linebacker, John Derby.

Iowa vs. Eastern Illinois 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
Iowa Hawkeyes 21 7 2 7 37
Eastern Illinois 0 7 0 0 7
Iowa Statistical Leaders
Passing: Ricky Stanzi 18 of 23, 229 yards, 1 touchdown
Rushing: Adam Robinson 24 carries, 109 yards, 3 touchdowns
Receiving: Colin Sandeman 4 catches, 59 yards

Robinson was the Hawkeyes’ workhouse in the backfield. The sophomore from Des Moines carried the rock 24 times for 109 yards and three touchdowns.

“Including just a bunch of yards after contact and that, my friend, is a beautiful thing,” smiled Ed Podolak of the Hawkeye Radio Network.

“It all started up front with the line. They did a great job,” said Robinson, who is noticeably bigger, stronger and faster in 2010.

“I made an emphasis not to lose weight in camp and it’s paid off. Coach (Chris) Doyle takes care of us. He makes it a point for us to `out-condition’ our opponent.”

All tallied, Iowa’s offense resembled the monster “O” of the 1985 Rose Bowl team that was in the house as part of the UI’s annual Varsity Club Day celebration. The Hawkeyes cranked out 435 yards on 24 first downs. They were also kind of balanced, calling for the ground game 39 times and going to the air 26. “I think it was a positive start. We certainly looked ready to play at the start, which is good. Then we got bogged down a little later,” said Kirk Ferentz, who singled out a sack and the second-half turnovers as things that caught the coaching staff’s attention.

“We encouraged our guys to start fast and we did on those first three possessions. Ricky (Stanzi) looked sharp. I think, to Eastern Illinois’ credit, they threw a lot at us defensively,” said Ferentz.

“We encouraged our guys to start fast and we did on those first three possessions. Ricky (Stanzi) looked sharp. I think, to Eastern Illinois’ credit, they threw a lot at us defensively.”
Kirk Ferentz

Iowa also had a special special teams play. Back-up running back Paki O’Meara blocked and returned an Eastern Illinois punt 42 yards late in the first quarter to push the Hawkeyes’ lead to 21-0.

“I’m so happy for Paki. He’s worked so hard and deserves to get a little time in the spotlight for a really great effort,” said Iowa’s head coach.

On the other hand, Iowa had a pair of turnovers, dropped a few passes, was beat in the defensive backfield for a long gain, and got flagged just one time, but it’s one time more often than Ferentz and his staff would like.

“That’s what happens in Game 1,” Podolak offered during the third quarter after Iowa was flagged for a false start.

“First, it’s good to get the win. Second, it’s good to be healthy. Third, we have some things to work on and that’s OK. It’s that time of the season,” he added.

Kinnick fell silent midway through the second half when Stanzi slipped turning up field and came up with a hitch in his giddy-up. A handful of members of the UI Athletics Training staff spent a chunk of time evaluating the senior signal-caller’s left knee before clearing him to play for the very next series.

In his halftime radio interview, Ferentz indicated that there appeared to be no structural damage. “Just a tweak,” Iowa’s head coach offered.