Iowa Focuses on Execution

Sept. 17, 2011

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The difference between wins and losses comes down to basic execution. The University of Iowa football team focused on the `little things’ this week leading up to today’s 11 a.m. kickoff against Pittsburgh.

“Literally, it comes down to how you prepare during the week,” said junior quarterback James Vandenberg, who is 29-of-49 for 426 yards and four touchdowns on the season. “What you see Saturday is straight off how we prepare during the week.

“When you get caught off guard is when there are those little miscues where you’re a step behind or the throw is a little high. Those are the things we need to work on as an offense; it’s all about the little things.”

The Iowa offense has been productive through the first two games of the season. The Hawkeyes are averaging 379.5 yards (153 rushing; 226.5 passing) and 37.5 points per game. Senior wide receiver Marvin McNutt, Jr., thinks the unit can be better.

“We’ve been productive, but at the same time, we haven’t been the offense we can be,” said McNutt, Jr., who is leading the team with 10 catches for 201 yards. “There are a lot of things we can work on, and will work on, to better execute this week.”

McNutt saw a pair of his wide receiver counterparts emerge in Ames on Sept. 10. Junior Keenan Davis caught five passes for 95 yards with a touchdown — a 23-yarder in the second overtime. Redshirt freshman Kevonte Martin-Manley made four catches for 23 yards with a score.

“He (Kevonte) played hard and very well,” said McNutt. “His first catch was a touchdown, and that should be a pretty good feeling for him.”

“I kind of saw that (Kevonte’s performance) coming,” said Vandenberg. “He’s done a nice job for us since he’s been here. He’s a guy that I have really bonded with and tried to take under my wing and move him along.”

Iowa is looking for depth at running back behind Marcus Coker. The sophomore carried the load at Iowa State, rushing 34 times for 140 yards. He was the only UI running back with an attempt against the Cyclones.

“We’re going to have to, and it’s one of those things we are going to have to jump in the water with,” said UI head coach Kirk Ferentz. “Basically we have Marcus, we’ve got Jason (White), Damon Bullock is the next guy in and then after that we’ll go with D’Andre Johnson or Jordan Canzeri. That’s kind of where it ends.”

Coker knows the talent level of the group working behind him.

“Every day they’re growing mentally, and physically they’re all capable,” said Coker. “As soon as they get down the mental stuff, they’ll be ready.”

The Hawkeyes are eager to return to Kinnick Stadium to put the Iowa State game in the past.

“We have to come out and execute our game plan and make sure we are doing everything we can to put ourselves in the best position to win,” said McNutt. “If we do that, good things happen.”

Today’s game will kickoff at 11:01 a.m., and be televised on ESPN2 with Beth Mowins and Mike Bellotti calling the action.