Hawkeyes Will `Swing Back' Against Michigan

Nov. 1, 2011

Coach Ferentz Press Conference Transcript (Nov. 1, 2011)

IOWA CITY, Iowa — When you get hit on the chin, swing back.

That’s what University of Iowa defensive tackle Steve Bigach and the Hawkeye football team intends to do Saturday when No. 13 Michigan comes to Kinnick Stadium. Kickoff for the key Big Ten Conference Legends Division clash is set for 11:01 a.m. (CT).

“We have to get a win, we have to rebound,” Bigach said. “It was a tough one last week and any time you get hit on the chin, you’re looking to fight back. That’s what we’re trying to do this week.”

The Hawkeyes (5-3 overall, 2-2 Big Ten) see Saturday’s game as a chance to win for the sixth consecutive time at home and win for the fifth time in seven weeks.

“It’s a good opportunity for us because we have a heck of an opponent coming in to our house,” Bigach said.

That opponent — Michigan (7-1, 3-1) — posted a 36-14 win over Purdue last week in Ann Arbor, Mich. This will be the third road game of the season for the Wolverines, who are 1-1 away from home.

Michigan is second in the Big Ten in scoring defense (14.6 points per game), total offense (441.2 yards per game), rushing offense (245.4) and third-down conversions (51 percent).

“It is certainly good to be back home,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday at his weekly gathering with media. “That’s always a good thing, no matter what time of year it is. Moving forward our focus is on improvement. We have plenty of things to concentrate on.”

A BIG emphasis for the Hawkeyes this week will be rushing defense. Wolverine quarterback Denard Robinson — the Big Ten total offense leader — averages 281 yards per game on the ground and through the air. Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint is seventh in the league with 71.9 rushing yards a game.

After holding Louisiana-Monroe to 59 rushing yards on 30 carries, the Hawkeyes have allowed 231 on the ground at Penn State, 153 against Northwestern, 217 against Indiana and 178 at Minnesota.

“The number one focus will be on stopping the run,” Ferentz said. “The bad news there is that Michigan is running for about 250 a game. They probably could go 400 if they chose to. They’re a very good running football team with a lot of good players touching the football. It’s going to be a big challenge.”

The Wolverines have the top red zone defense in the league, holding opponents to 15 scores in 25 trips inside their 20-yard line. Iowa’s offense has risen to the challenge of late, out-gaining its last two opponents by an average of 58.5 yards per game. Sophomore running back Marcus Coker is coming off a 32-carry, 252-yard, two- touchdown performance, leaving him 31 yards from 1,000 for the season.

“Our offense is going to have to step up even more than we have and put more points on the board,” Coker said. “I just want to win football games. Anything I can do to help our team, I’m going to try to do.”

Iowa is rebounding from a 22-21 loss at Minnesota in a game that saw the Hawkeyes dominate the majority of time.

“We’re going to go back to work today,” Ferentz said. “I don’t think it’s a lost cause; we haven’t surrendered yet. We don’t plan on surrendering. If you pay attention to what’s going on in the landscape of (college football), that’s football. As much as we all want to know what’s going to happen before things happen, that’s why you play games.”

Ferentz said the Hawkeye coaching staff and players are disappointed with the loss to the Gophers, but they will work to improve.

“It’s disappointing to lose. That’s life,” Ferentz said. “You get back up and go back to work the next day.”

Ferentz said the Hawkeyes continue to “gain ground” with their special team’s play, even though special teams — like the team’s red zone offense — didn’t have a stellar outing a week ago. Sophomore kicker Mike Myer was 3-for-3 on extra points, but he misfired on first-half field goal attempts from 24 and 43 yards.

Mike Meyer is a good kicker; we all have games like that,” Ferentz said. “The best miss ’em. Things like that happen. He’s going to work through that.”

The UI athletics department will observe Veteran’s Day prior to kick off against Michigan on Nov. 5. A public address announcement honoring all veterans and current members of our armed services, will be read to a sold-out Kinnick Stadium crowd (70,585). Fans are encouraged to be in their seats between 10:30 and 10:45 a.m., so they can be part of this tribute.