Sep 8, 2013
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Two games for the University of Iowa football team, two highlights from senior defenders.
A week after linebacker Christian Kirksey forced a fumble, scooped it up, and ran for a touchdown, free safety Tanner Miller intercepted a pass in the end zone to preserve the Hawkeyes’ 28-14 win against Missouri State.
“Tanner has done a nice job back there,” Ferentz said Sunday in an exclusive interview with hawkeyesports.com “He had an excellent spring and carried it over into camp and has played well in two straight games. Last week Chris Kirksey came up with a big turnover, yesterday Tanner had a big interception just inside the goal line. That came at a pivotal moment, and that’s back-to-back weeks we have had two veteran players do a good job coming up with that big play. That’s what you’re hoping to see from your veteran guys.”
Iowa (1-1 overall) compiled 489 yards, while allowing the Bears 197. Running back Mark Weisman had 30 carries for 180 yards and two touchdowns.
“Tanner has done a nice job back there. He had an excellent spring and carried it over into camp and has played well in two straight games. Last week Chris Kirksey came up with a big turnover, yesterday Tanner had a big interception just inside the goal line. That came at a pivotal moment, and that’s back-to-back weeks we have had two veteran players do a good job coming up with that big play. That’s what you’re hoping to see from your veteran guys.”
UI head football coach
“Once Mark got going, he ran strong and got stronger as the game went on,” Ferentz said. “The line did a good job and I would include the tight ends and Adam Cox and Macon Plewa playing fullback. It was a nice job by everybody.”
While veterans like Miller and Weisman played key roles, so did first-timers LeShun Daniels, Jr., and Matt VandeBerg. Daniels, a running back, carried the ball six times for 30 yards; VandeBerg caught two passes for 17 yards.
“LeShun Daniels got his first action and looked like he belonged, like he has done in practice,” Ferentz said. “He looks comfortable and he is a quick learner, so it was good to get him started. Matt VandeBerg stepped in at receiver and had a nice run and a couple catches in a row and making yards after the catch.”
Ferentz said the linebacker play remains strong. He was also pleased with special teams play from Gavin Smith, Jordan Cotton and Connor Kornbrath. Smith and Cotton were cited for kick coverage, Cotton for a 35-yard kick return, and Kornbrath for pinning Missouri State inside their 20-yard-line four times.
The Hawkeyes face Iowa State on Sept. 14 in Ames, beginning at 5 p.m. (CT). That means that during the first three weeks, Iowa has kicked off at 2:30 p.m., 11 a.m., and now 5 p.m.
“That’s college football these days, so you have to stay loose on that” Ferentz said. “The players adjust better than the coaches and fans in some regards. We did have our Kid’s Day scrimmage at 5 o’clock with that in mind to simulate having to wait during the day. We encourage our players not to play the game during the daytime, save it until 5 o’clock.”
While Iowa has played two games to start the year, the Cyclones are coming off a bye week. Ferentz is glad the Hawkeyes have two games under their belts, but he doesn’t know which format is more beneficial.
“I know (Iowa State) is on a different schedule and I don’t know which is better,” Ferentz said. “At this time of year, every day is important, whether you’re practicing, playing actual games, or resting for that matter. That’s one of the benefits of a bye week — you can rest team a little bit.”
And keep them out of the heat. Having his team practice and play two weeks in a row in the brutal Iowa heat is a concern for Ferentz.
“The guys have done a great job keeping their weight where it should be,” he said. “They are paying attention to their nutrition, rest and hydration. We don’t want to minimize that because they exerted a lot yesterday (against Missouri State) as well.”