Sept. 11, 2012
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Corrections have been made, University of Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz said, and the Hawkeyes are moving on to intrastate battle No. 2 Saturday against Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) power Northern Iowa.
The last meeting between the teams — a season-opening 17-16 victory by Iowa in 2009 — is remembered for its exciting and bizarre finish. Iowa defenders Broderick Binns and Jeremiha Hunter blocked field goals on back-to-back plays to hold on for the 1-point win.
“All you have to do is look back to the 2009 game when we played (UNI),” Ferentz said Tuesday at his weekly media conference inside the Hayden Fry Football Complex. “I don’t know that we played anybody during the course of that season that played any harder than they do, and that’s exactly what you see on their film from last year or this year.”
In the first week of the 2012 season, UNI dropped a 26-21 decision at Wisconsin; in 2011, the Panthers lost 20-19 at Iowa State. They defeated the Cyclones in 2007.
“There are a lot of good football players out there in a lot of different schools,” Ferentz said. “In this case, it’s no surprise because UNI has a history of traveling anywhere and playing extremely well against anybody.”
It will be Varsity Club Day inside Kinnick Stadium, where Hawkeye fans are encouraged to wear gold. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:42 p.m. (CT); the game will be televised by the Big Ten Network. Both teams are 1-1; UNI is ranked No. 6 in FCS.
Iowa is attempting to bounce back from a 9-6 loss to Iowa State on Sept. 8. It is the first time in 41 games under Ferentz that the Hawkeyes have held an opponent to less than 10 points and lost.
“We have made our corrections, and we have moved on now to UNI,” Ferentz said.
“All you have to do is look back to the 2009 game when we played (UNI). I don’t know that we played anybody during the course of that season that played any harder than they do, and that’s exactly what you see on their film from last year or this year.”
UI head football coach
One area the Hawkeyes will address is making sure to come away from red zone opportunities with seven points, rather than three. Iowa scored on both red zone opportunities against the Cyclones, but the scores were field goals from 23 and 21 yards by Mike Meyer. On the first drive, Iowa had first-and-10 from the 11 in the first quarter; on the second opportunity, the Hawkeyes had first-and-goal from the 3 at the end of the third period.
“The field is a little tighter down there,” Ferentz said. “It’s a big part of football, offensively and defensively; if you keep people out of the end zone, obviously it increases your chances, and that is something we have done a fairly good job of over the years. And then flipping it around, just like a week ago, we got down there and scored field goals. At some point that’s going to catch up to you. So it’s a little tougher circumstance when you get down there, but if you can’t master that, you can’t have success; it’s unrealistic to think that you’re going to be a successful football team.”
An area that continues to impress is the UI defense — specifically in the second halves of its first two outings. Against Northern Illinois, the Hawkeyes allowed seven points and 68 yards during the final 30 minutes; against Iowa State, they allowed no points and 110 yards in the final two periods.
“Guys get the feel of a game, you hope they learn as they go along and things slow down a little bit for them mentally,” Ferentz said. “That’s encouraging, and we’re making progress there, but we’re hardly out of the woods.”
Ferentz said he had a choice in scheduling UNI, then joked that he should have gotten out of the contract after the 2009 nail-biter.
“I was pretty confident this was going to be a tough football game because that’s what UNI has been for a long time,” Ferentz said. “It’s impressive if you look at what they’ve done. Now maybe if I could have gotten out of it after the 2009 game, but we didn’t have a choice at that point. I think it was already in the books.”
How did the 2009 season turn out for both programs? Iowa won nine straight games to start the year and finished with a 24-14 win against Georgia Tech in the FedEx Orange Bowl; UNI went 7-4 and missed the FCS playoffs for the only time since 2007.