Missed Opportunities

Oct. 29, 2011

Post game video with James Vandenberg

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Saturday’s 22-21 loss at Minnesota was a day of missed opportunities — in all three facets of the game — for the University of Iowa football team.

“If you don’t finish drives and get points, a lot of times that will come back and get you,” said UI head coach Kirk Ferentz. “If you can’t stop the run — slow people down — at some point that’s going to get you.

“If you don’t capitalize on special teams — today we really didn’t do anything today to distinguish ourselves on special teams. To me, it’s a team thing, a team loss.”

The Hawkeyes, who entered the game converting 26-of-27 attempts (96.3 percent) in the red zone, went 3-for-6 at TCF Bank Stadium. The team gave up 178 yards on the ground to the Golden Gophers, and Iowa missed two field goals, and allowed Minnesota to recover a fourth quarter on-side kick.

Twice in the first half, the Hawkeyes drove the ball deep into Golden Gopher territory only to come up empty. On its third possession, Iowa used a 50-yard Marcus Coker rush to move to the Minnesota 13-yard line, but the drive stalled, and Mike Meyer missed a 24-yard chip shot field goal.

On its next possession, the Hawkeyes moved the ball from their own 16-yard line to the 11-yard line in six plays, before a pair of Gopher sacks forced a 43-yard Meyer attempt. Meyer, who entered the game having made 12-of-14 field goals on the season, hit the left upright.

“We didn’t execute in the red zone and that’s what came back to get us,” said James Vandenberg, who finished the game 16-of-24 for 177 yards and a touchdown. “We know that when we’re on the road you have to score every point you can, and we didn’t do a good job on that. Those points were needed in the end.”

The Hawkeyes grabbed the game’s momentum in the second half, taking a 21-10 lead, courtesy of a pair of 1-yard Coker touchdown runs. The pendulum started to shift in Minnesota’s favor when the Gophers used an 80-yard drive over 11-plays to cut the score to 21-16.

The momentum then did a 180 when Minnesota recovered an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, which led to the go-ahead touchdown.

“They closed it to 14-10 and our guys responded,” said Ferentz. “We responded really well several times during the game. They took the ball and drove it on us and then came up with the onside kick and did it twice. We couldn’t get off the field, and it’s tough to be in that situation.”

Things aren’t going to get any easier for the Hawkeyes, as the team returns to Kinnick next weekend to open the third section of its season. The squad has home games remaining against ranked foes Michigan and Michigan State and road dates at Purdue and Nebraska.

“Traditionally coach Ferentz teams are November teams,” said James Morris, who led the Hawkeyes with 13 tackles. “That’s something we’re striving for. Everyday it’s about improvement and right now, we’re just getting ready for our next game.”

“I felt this morning when I woke up that we had a chance to win any of the five games on our schedule, and we could lose any of the five, and I still feel the same way,” said Ferentz. “The season is not over, we have four games left. We’ll feel bad today and tomorrow and then get back to work.”