Experience Will Help Down the Road

Oct. 26, 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 — “Down the road” for the 2011 University of Iowa football team begins Saturday on the road. And the road hasn’t been a happy place for the Hawkeyes since an 18-13 win against Indiana 51 weeks ago.

Iowa, winner of two games in a row and four of its last five, is on a mission to fetch Floyd of Rosedale from the Minnesota Gophers when the teams meet with a 2:30 p.m. (CT) kickoff from TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Plenty of Hawkeyes touched the field during back-to-back Big Ten Conference wins against Northwestern (41-31 on Oct. 15) and Indiana (45-24 on Oct. 22).

One of those players is cornerback B.J. Lowery, a sophomore from Hughes High School in Cincinnati.

“B.J. practiced well last spring and he had a good August until the (hand) injury,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “That was a big hit. Having him back gives us a little more depth in the secondary and a little more competition.”

After Iowa took a 3-0 lead against the Wildcats, Lowery made a tackle on a kickoff return by Northwestern’s Venric Mark. Lowery added another stop in the fourth quarter.

His role increased against Indiana last weekend. Lowery replaced All-Big Ten defensive back Shaun Prater in the third quarter at left corner and finished the game with three tackles and two pass breakups.

“It felt good to be at that corner position,” Lowery said. “Last week when I came in, I was in dime and 30 and things like that, so it felt good to be in at corner and getting a feel for that.”

Monday, Oct. 31, isn’t a Hawkeye game day, but Lowery has that date circled on his calendar. That’s when he gets the cast removed from his left hand. The cast hasn’t slowed him much during his first two games back.

“The experience the guys are getting is going to help us down the road,” Ferentz said. “The good news is guys are getting some experience, they’re being called upon, jumping in, and doing a good job.”

Lowery was one of nine Hawkeye true freshmen to see action in 2010. The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder played in seven games with four solo tackles and one assist. He recorded stops against Eastern Illinois, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State and Minnesota. He did not play in the Insight Bowl because of injury.

Despite sitting out two months and missing the first five games of the season, Lowery said the hand injury didn’t set him back. Instead, it provided a learning experience where he picked up new things. Lowery isn’t just giving the Hawkeyes a boost on defense; he also plays a key role for the UI kickoff team that allowed the Hoosiers just 14.5 yards on eight returns.

“The energy,” Lowery gave a reason for success on kick coverage. “We have some freshmen out there who aren’t afraid to go down the field and hit somebody. That’s the main thing.”

On the season, the Hawkeyes are 54th in the nation and seventh in the Big Ten allowing 20.98 yards per kickoff return.

“I’m satisfied,” Lowery said of his performance against the Hoosiers. “It felt good to win, special teams are doing well right now, and that’s a big thing. I feel good. This is the first time I have been out there this season, so I’m enjoying it. I’m real modest, so I would never say I did good; I feel I did all right.”