Oct. 30, 2012
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Kirk Ferentz knows the song, and he probably knows most of the lyrics. The year was 1979 and the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team — Ferentz’s favorite — adopted the Sister Sledge song “We are Family” as its theme.
The Pirates won the World Series.
From sounds at Tuesday’s weekly football news conference, it seems the 2012 University of Iowa football team is using the “We are Family” tune to snap a rare two-game losing skid at Indiana on Nov. 3.
“We’re still brothers, we’re still family,” said cornerback B.J. Lowery, who intercepted a pass last Saturday at Northwestern. “We all know what it takes to get a win, and hopefully we come out this week and get that win.”
Northwestern attempted 10 passes against the Hawkeyes, and Lowery picked off 10 percent of those. The Hoosiers, this week’s opponent, average 41.5 passes a game.
Iowa (4-4 overall, 2-2 Big Ten Conference) plays at Indiana (3-5, 1-3) with a 2:42 p.m. (CT) kickoff from Memorial Stadium.
“It just gets down to us playing better collectively, and I’m confident we’ll do that,” Ferentz said.
Collectively, as in one big family.
The Hawkeyes are coming off a 38-14 setback at home against Penn State on Oct. 20, and a 28-17 loss at Northwestern on Oct. 27. No one associated with the program will sugar-coat the past, but they keep their eyes on the future.
“We haven’t played well the past two weeks,” said senior center James Ferentz. “It falls on every senior on this team to show leadership and know that we have had hard times before and it is not the end of the world.”
“Our players. We have good players and we have good coaches, and there are still four games to go (in the regular season). Our intention is to have a good week of practice and play well Saturday.”
UI head football coach
In a season with two close wins and two close losses, James Ferentz is ready for more progress.
“At some point we have to understand that being close isn’t good enough,” he said.
Indiana’s offense is second in the Big Ten, averaging 443.4 yards a game; its defense is last, surrendering 438.5 yards — 222.5 on the ground.
That is good news for Hawkeye sophomore Damon Bullock, who returned to the lineup against Northwestern and rushed for 107 yards on 22 carries.
“(Damon) hasn’t played in a month and a half and it was the first time he has been hit in quite some time,” Kirk Ferentz said. “It’s a good feeling for him, because he hasn’t been sore for quite a while.”
Bullock sustained a concussion in the third week of the season and missed the next four games. He will likely receive the bulk of the carries this week, since Iowa’s leading rusher — Mark Weisman — is expected to sit out with an injury.
“We took Mark off the depth chart,” Ferentz said. “I don’t think he will be able to go this week. There’s a chance we’ll know more in the next 48 hours where he is going to be long-term, but I think there is a fair chance we’ll get him back next week (against Purdue).”
After dropping five games in a row, Indiana returned to the win column with a 31-17 decision at Illinois on Oct. 27. The Hoosiers average 77.1 plays a game.
“The quicker we can get them off the field and don’t let them get going, the better,” said UI linebacker Anthony Hitchens. “We have to try our best to get off the field after third down.”
Hitchens leads the conference with 11.5 tackles per game.
Iowa’s last three opponents: Penn State, Northwestern, and Indiana, have averaged 78.4, 72.9, and 77.1 plays a game. The Hawkeyes average 67.4.
“We have enough to be successful this week and that’s what I’m worried about. We have enough to win, we just have to find a way to get it done.”
Ui head football coach
“It won’t be easy this week,” Ferentz said. “It’s another high-tempo group the third week in a row. So if there is a positive in that, at least we’re catching it all in one stretch here.”
Ferentz talked about the decision to pull the red shirt off true freshman defensive lineman Drew Ott against Northwestern.
“He brings depth, which is what we need,” Ferentz said. “We felt it was an advantageous move. He has been practicing well, he is a smart player, and he has picked things up quickly. He is a guy that can help us win right now, which is important. It is a win-win situation.”
The last time the Hawkeyes lost two games in a row was at the end of 2011, falling at Nebraska (20-7) and against Oklahoma (31-14) in the Insight Bowl. Iowa snapped that string Sept. 1 with an 18-17 win against Northern Illinois…a Northern Illinois team that has not lost since.
So, despite back-to-back losses, Ferentz is confident. The reason?
“Our players,” he said. “We have good players and we have good coaches, and there are still four games to go (in the regular season). Our intention is to have a good week of practice and play well Saturday.”
Ferentz will not let injuries be an issue.
“We have enough to be successful this week and that’s what I’m worried about,” he said. “We have enough to win, we just have to find a way to get it done.”
Lyrics of a hit song three decades ago symbolically echo through the Hayden Fry Football Complex.
“We don’t get depressed, Here’s what we call our golden rule, Have faith in you and the things you do, You won’t go wrong, This is our family jewel.”
We are Family.