Hawkeyes are solid, through & through

Sept. 17, 2010

Video interview with Hawkeye football players

IOWA CITY, Iowa — It’s not quite Midnight Madness, but it’s close enough. Instead of kicking off a basketball season with a 12:01 a.m. practice in the home gymnasium, the No. 9 University of Iowa football team will play an actual game on the road, in the heat, in a different time zone, and for the real clincher…against a nationally ranked foe with revenge on its mind.

“All the elements are against us,” said UI junior defensive end Broderick Binns, who then added another motivational fact for the host Arizona Wildcats. “Coach (Mike) Stoops graduated from Iowa, so he’s going have them come out harder to try to beat us. We have to come out ready to play.”


The Iowa-Arizona clash kicks off at 7:35 p.m. (Tucson time), which means the Hawkeye biological clocks will be synched at 9:35 p.m.

“We’ve practiced at night during camp and we’re prepared to do what we can to not let it affect us,” UI fullback Brett Morse said. “You’re excited to play a great Pac 10 opponent like Arizona, but to be honest, we’re just trying to get our work done like we do week-in and week-out. We want to bring that same focus and intensity on a weekly basis.”

These Hawkeyes are no strangers to success in the evening. A year ago, Iowa defeated Penn State (21-10), Michigan (30-28), Michigan State (15-13) and Georgia Tech (24-14) at night. Three of those wins were away from Kinnick Stadium.

“We’re still out there playing football,” UI junior linebacker Tyler Nielsen said. “The field is 100 yards long and 50 yards wide and we just have to go out and play football.”

Playing football is something Nielsen and the Hawkeyes have done well during the first two Saturdays this season. Iowa averages 36 points and 457 yards, while allowing 216 yards a game (71.5 average on the ground). Tomorrow’s opponent is ranked No. 2 in the NCAA in scoring defense (four points per game), third in total defense (177 yards per game) and fourth in pass defense (62 yards per game).

“No game is easy to prepare for, especially against these guys,” Nielsen said. “We’re just excited to go down there and play a top 25 team.”

“I think the Hawkeyes are going to wind up coming away with the win. They’re just too solid through and through. This is a tough ball club.”
Spencer Tillman
CBS Sports

It is a top 25 team, which since Iowa’s 27-17 win last September in Iowa City, has defeated Oregon State, Arizona State and Southern California on the road and Stanford and UCLA at home. The glaring blemish on that post-Kinnick Stadium run by the Wildcats is a 33-0 loss to Nebraska in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl.

“Arizona is a great ball club,” UI junior offensive tackle Markus Zusevics said. “Last week was a big week, the week before was a big week and this is going to be a big week, too. We’re taking it one game at a time, preparing every week as a big week.”

The Hawkeye defense prepared all week without defensive coordinator Norm Parker, who will miss a second consecutive game because of complications from diabetes.

“We’ve been in this situation before,” UI linebacker Jeff Tarpinian said. “The defensive coaches have done a great job with everything. We need to keep focused and we have to perform and everything will take care of itself.”

Tarpinian, who registered 11 tackles last week during a 35-7 rout of Iowa State, said coach Darrell Wilson will handle the defensive calls at Arizona.

“We’ve done that before,” Tarpinian said. “We should be fine.”

A battle of top 25 teams this early in the season has interested national media. Former Oklahoma running back Spencer Tillman, now with CBS Sports, has this to say:

“I think this is one of the more compelling football games, particularly if you’re a purest,” he said. “Iowa was my dark horse last year; Arizona with the great defense and a pretty good quarterback (Nick Foles) who’s underrated in my opinion. This is a game I’m going to be circling. I’m going to be watching intently because it could be a breakout game for both Iowa and Arizona.”

Tillman went on to call the Iowa quarterback-receiver combination of Ricky Stanzi and Marvin McNutt, “one of the most underrated in America.”

And the final outcome, according to Tillman?

“I think the Hawkeyes are going to wind up coming away with the win. They’re just too solid through and through. This is a tough ball club.”