Sept. 2, 2012
- 2012 UI Fall Football Camp Central
- Download your Iowa Hawkeye iPhone app!
- Download your Iowa Hawkeye Android app!
- Big Ten Network: Free Hawkeye Video
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
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.
CHICAGO — University of Iowa kicker Mike Meyer slipped a bit on the slick Soldier Field turf late yesterday afternoon. But the junior maintained his focus and succeeded on a 50-yard fourth-quarter field goal, matching a career-high in distance.
“When you keep your head down, good things happen,” veteran reporter Bob Brooks told Meyer during a postgame interview.
Good things happen when you keep your head up, too. The Hawkeyes are examples.
Meyer’s 50-yard field goal — his fourth 3-pointer of the day — reduced Iowa’s deficit against Northern Illinois to 17-12 with 9-minutes, 33-seconds remaining in the season opener. It also provided the first three of nine unanswered Hawkeye points that sealed an 18-17 win, their 12th straight successful beginning to a year.
“Our goal was to come in here, play hard, and win the game,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We got both those things accomplished.”
But the victory didn’t happen without a slip here and there. It also didn’t come without retained focus by the Hawkeyes. Yesterday’s poster child was Meyer, who made 4-of-5 field goals and accounted for 75 percent of Iowa’s point total.
“Everybody believed and everybody had a positive attitude,” Meyer said.
The four field goals matched a career high; the five attempts ties a school record. His 34-yarder with 8:08 left in the first quarter gave the Hawkeyes a 3-0 lead. Iowa trailed more than 32 minutes of the contest before sophomore running back Damon Bullock ran in from 23 yards with 2:15 remaining. In between there were nine more points by Meyer.
“It was a great feeling,” said Meyer, of the game-winning touchdown. “The offense kept going, our team stuck together and kept driving.”
“They called for PAT-field goal and everybody took it as another opportunity, and we did what we were supposed to do. I saw everybody else jumping up and down, but I didn’t see it going through because I was on the ground. I slipped a little bit, but I kept my focus.”
UI junior kicker
Meyer missed from 40 yards on Iowa’s first possession of the second period, but he made a 29-yarder with 4:23 left in the half. He brought the Hawkeyes within one point at 10-9, with a 22-yard field goal with 10:59 remaining in the third period, which opened the scoring in the second half. His most impressive effort came when Iowa trailed 17-9 early in the fourth period.
“They called for PAT-field goal and everybody took it as another opportunity, and we did what we were supposed to do,” Meyer said. “I saw everybody else jumping up and down, but I didn’t see it going through because I was on the ground. I slipped a little bit, but I kept my focus.”
In the process, the Hawkeyes snapped the Huskies’ nine-game winning streak — the longest current run in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The last loss for Northern Illinois came 11 months ago at Central Michigan.
“A win is a win,” Meyer said. “Northern Illinois is a great team, but we kept fighting.”
Special teams play was special for the Hawkeyes. Adding to Meyer’s four field goals were three punts by freshman Connor Kornbrath for an average of 41.3 yards per kick, and perhaps the play of the game — a 43-yard punt by backup punter/backup quarterback John Wienke that was downed by cornerback Greg Castillo at the Husky 1-yard line. Meyer also averaged 62.2 yards on six kickoffs.
“We missed that one field goal and I know Mike was disappointed with that,” Ferentz said. “Then he bounced back and did a good job with his kickoffs. I don’t know how he pulled that 50-yarder off — he was slipping a little bit, so that was a huge play.”
There were times Saturday when the Hawkeyes slipped a bit as well, but they finished with a huge victory.
“I was proud of our effort and the way our guys hung in there,” Ferentz said. “There were a lot of good things that took place out there, too.”
Meyer has now made 32-of-42 career field goal attempts. Saturday marked the third time he has converted four in a game, equaling the most-recent effort Sept. 10, 2011 at Iowa State. The Cyclones — 38-23 winners at home to Tulsa — come to Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 8.
Meyer says he remembers all of his kick attempts, both made and missed. But when there is an occasional miscue, he makes certain to learn and look forward.
“I think about my misses, but I take the positives from them, if there are any, and move on,” Meyer said.
Improving and moving on is also a trademark of Ferentz-coached football teams. The 2012 edition will move forward from yesterday’s close call — how far it advances will be determined in the next six days.