Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Nov. 5, 2011

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa created its own breaks Saturday during a 24-16 win against No. 13 Michigan inside Kinnick Stadium.

Hawkeye senior defensive end Broderick Binns batted down three Denard Robinson pass attempts at the line of scrimmage, and sophomore cornerback B.J. Lowery had a game-winning deflection as time expired to give Iowa its third straight win over the Wolverines. That’s a feat the Hawkeyes have never done before.

Iowa won 38-28 last season in Ann Arbor and 30-28 in its 2009 Homecoming contest.

With a long wingspan, Binns plays much taller than his listed 6-foot-2 frame. Binns collected pass breakups on Michigan’s sixth play from scrimmage (an attempt to wide receiver Jerermy Gallon), its fifth play of the second quarter (an attempt to running back Vincent Smith) and on the Wolverines’ eighth play of the second half (an attempt to tight end Steve Watson).

“It’s knowing that (Michigan quarterback) Denard (Robinson) is able to take off at any point in time and knowing that realistically I won’t get there,” Binns said of defending the electrifying Wolverine signal-caller. “I just sit and remind myself that if he’s looking my way, just jump and get my hands in the passing lane.”

Robinson rushed 12 times for 55 yards and completed 17-of-37 passes for 194 yards. He threw two touchdowns with an interception.

“He’s a better passer this year, so if you’re not going to (sack him), just stay in line and get your hands up,” Binns said.

A year ago in the desert, Binns snagged a Nick Foles pass out of the air and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown against Arizona. He would like to see a replay of that scoring return this season.

“That’s the plan,” Binns said of his pick-six pursuit. “Hopefully.”

For the season, Binns has six pass breakups — tied with defensive back Micah Hyde for the team lead. Defending passes was just one aspect of Binns’ game — he also had two tackles for a loss, including a sack for 12 yards.

Lowery expected to have the cast removed from his left hand Monday, but it remains, he said, for protection. Lowery provided excellent pass protection on the game’s final play, batting the ball away from Wolverine wide receiver Roy Roundtree in the end zone.

“I disguised it; I came up like I was going to press,” Lowery said. “I saw Denard look dead at me. I stepped off, (Roundtree) ran a slant, I put my hand up and stuck my cast in there and it worked out.”

Lowery said he had “no clue” what route Roundtree was going to run. It didn’t matter.

“He ran it, I reacted, the play was made,” Lowery said.

While Lowery came up big on the final play, it almost didn’t happen.

“I was kind of upset with (strong safety Jordan) Bernstine, though,” Lowery said. “We had a corner blitz going and he switched it on me, so I had to cover while he blitzed. It’s all right, though.”

More than 70,000 Iowa fans agree.

“It showed a lot of heart down there,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It’s almost better that we ended the game that way because that was a tough circumstance. You’re kind of rolling the dice a little bit because (Robinson’s) a dangerous thrower, but also he can squirt out of there and run the ball. The guys had to play good team defense. It was good to see our guys make them earn it and great to come up with stops at the end there.”

Binns and Lowery combined for all four Hawkeye pass breakups on a day when the home team became bowl eligible for a 11th consecutive season. Iowa’s defense held Michigan to 18.8 points below its season average of 34.8 points per game.

In part because the Hawkeyes created their own breaks.