Nov. 18, 2011
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa football team has two more chances to claim its first road victory of the 2011 season.
The Hawkeyes have been in position to claim the victory in the fourth quarter in all three of their road losses. They took Iowa State to three overtimes before falling, 44-41. The team lost a defensive battle, 13-3, at Penn State on Oct. 8, and it allowed a late touchdown in the 22-21 road loss at Minnesota.
“We need to play better as a team, I think that’s all units,” said junior James Vandenberg, who ranks second in the Big Ten Conference with 235.1 passing yards per contest. “We have not played our best football in the three phases on the road this year. That’s the gist of it.
“The bottom line is we have to play a lot better on the road.”
One of the things Vandenberg points to as an area that needs improvement is the team’s energy level.
“That’s something you have to make sure you bring going into a hostile environment,” he said. “You have to be ready to embrace that and have your own energy because there are not very many people on your side. That’s something we have to put a lot of focus on.”
Senior defensive end Broderick Binns says the Hawkeyes need to come out with the same mindset and energy as they do in a home game inside Kinnick Stadium.
“We have to come out with more energy like it’s a home game,” said Binns, who has 8.5 tackles for loss and four sacks this season. “Obviously it’s not, but if we come out with the intensity like we do at home, we’ll play better and potentially win a game.”
One thing Iowa has done well is put losses behind them and moved on. The Hawkeyes have not let losses linger, as they bounced back with victories following their first three losses this season.
“We’re a resilient group and that shows a lot of the character of our coaching staff and the guys on this team,” said Vandenberg. “I don’t think we’re ever going to lie down, and we plan on getting right back to work.”
“We realize it’s on to the next one,” said senior offensive tackle Markus Zusevics. “We can’t change anything with the game that happened last Saturday. All we can do is learn from it, move forward and win the next one.”
To continue that trend this week, Iowa is going to have to contend with a Purdue team coming off an emotional 26-23 overtime victory over Ohio State. The Boilermakers are a win shy of bowl eligibility heading into their home finale on Saturday.
“We know we have a good Purdue team on our schedule,” said Vandenberg. “We have to go to their place, and they’re coming off a big win. It’s a quality football team, and it’s going to be a challenge.
“We have two more games that we could possibly win, so we’re going to do everything in our power to get that done.”
“The season is not over yet,” said Binns. “We still have two games, and have a chance to make it to a good bowl game. We have to take care of this one first.”
Iowa faces Purdue at 11 a.m., Saturday inside Ross-Ade Stadium. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network with Tom Hart, Derek Rackley and Lisa Byington calling the action.