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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Turnovers are a factor in many season-opening football games.
Not for the University of Iowa. Not in 2012.
UI offensive coordinator Greg Davis was pleased with the fact the Hawkeyes ran 82 plays and controlled nearly 39 minutes of game clock with no turnovers during an 18-17 win against Northern Illinois on Sept. 1 in Chicago. Iowa was penalized just three times for 30 yards.
“What we didn’t do was finish in the red zone,” said Davis, following Iowa’s practice Thursday inside Kinnick Stadium. “We got down there and we have to do a better job getting touchdowns instead of field goals.”
The next opportunity is Saturday against Iowa State with a 2:42 p.m. (CT) start. For Davis and the Hawkeye offense, it will face a seasoned defense for a second week in a row. The Cyclones list seven senior defensive starters.
“Any time you play an experienced defense, you know they’re going to be in the right place and you know they’re going to play hard,” Davis said. “That’s what we saw last week and I think that’s what we’re going to see again this week.”
Saturday’s Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk series matchup will be the first game for Davis inside Kinnick Stadium.
“I’m excited,” he said. “Everybody I’ve talked to in the business after they found out I was coming here raved about the electricity in this stadium.”
UI defensive coordinator Phil Parker is in charge of a defense that allowed six yards on 12 plays in the fourth quarter of the Northern Illinois win.
“We have to improve on some things we did in the first and second quarters and play like we did in the third and fourth,” Parker said. “We made some adjustments and the kids came out and played hard. They kept fighting and gave a great effort.”
All eyes in Soldier Field were on the relatively untested Hawkeye defensive linemen. They responded by combining for 16 tackles, 5 ½ tackles for loss, two sacks, a pass breakup and a fumble recovery.
“They made a big jump,” Parker said. “It was good to finally get on the field and play that first game. They’re feeling more comfortable now, but we have a long way to go.”
Both Iowa and Iowa State enter the game 1-0. The Hawkeyes lead the all-time series 39-20, and won the last meeting inside Kinnick Stadium, 35-7, in 2010. Iowa State won in triple overtime last season in Ames.