Sept. 17, 2013
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — After three weeks, the University of Iowa football team is further down the road, but there are miles to go before it sleeps.
Head coach Kirk Ferentz met with media Tuesday in the Hayden Fry Football Complex, and although pleased with two consecutive victories, he mentioned that the Hawkeyes are four points from an undefeated season, and there is room for improvement.
“The thing I’m most excited about is we can still play a lot better,” Ferentz said. “We’re going to have to, we understand that. We’re not a team that can waste a day.”
The Hawkeyes (2-1 overall) are coming off victories against Missouri State (28-14) and on the road at Iowa State (27-21) in games that were closer on the scoreboard than on the playing field. Against Missouri State, the Hawkeyes ran the ball 58 times for 296 yards and controlled 36:37 of the 60-minute game clock. Last week in its first road test, Iowa had 60 rushing attempts for 218 yards with 38:03 time of possession.
In a throwback to the Hayden Fry “scratch where it itches” days, Ferentz said “anything that works, we’re going to keep doing it.”
That could mean another heavy dose of Mark Weisman, Damon Bullock, Jordan Canzeri and LeShun Daniels, Jr., on Saturday when the Hawkeyes host Western Michigan with an 11:01 a.m. (CT) start inside Kinnick Stadium.
“Historically, if you can’t run the ball at any level, at some point it’s going to catch up to you,” Ferentz said. “It helps if you can run, and if you can’t stop the run, it’s going to be a tough game and a tough season.”
It is a “Four’s Company” situation in the Hawkeye offensive backfield. Weisman has 425 yards on 85 attempts, followed by Bullock (40 carries, 166 yards), Daniels (6-30) and Canzeri (8-29). Throw in the mobility of quarterback Jake Rudock (19 attempts, 63 yards, four touchdowns) and Iowa is averaging 293.3 rushing yards per game — 142 yards per game more than its opponents.
“Historically, if you can’t run the ball at any level, at some point it’s going to catch up to you. It helps if you can run, and if you can’t stop the run, it’s going to be a tough game and a tough season.”
UI head football coach
“They have earned our confidence,” Ferentz said. “Back in the spring I felt good about both guys and they’re doing a nice job. It gives us a nice one-two punch, and we know we can count on them.”
The to-do list for Ferentz this week is getting the Hawkeyes to “practice cleaner.”
“It’s not that they weren’t trying, we just have to practice a little bit cleaner,” Ferentz said. “Then, hopefully our execution will show up a little better on Saturdays.”
Complicating the “cleanliness” of practice recently was a string of unseasonably hot days, coupled with a downpour Sept. 11.
“Last week it felt like we were in Phoenix on Tuesday,” Ferentz said. “Wednesday was more like the Midwest or the Gulf, it was kind of humid. Then all of a sudden, we had a shower, so we got to do a wet ball drill finally, which was good, because it was a distraction.”
The next on-field distraction comes in the form of a Western Michigan program that is 2-0 all-time against the Hawkeyes. Iowa is 13-4 against Mid-American Conference teams since 1999, but the Hawkeyes have lost the last two meetings: 32-31 against Central Michigan on Sept. 22, 2012, and 30-27 against Northern Illinois to open the 2013 season Aug. 31.
“They play really good football, I’ve been saying that for a while,” Ferentz said. “There are a lot of really good players in the MAC. I’ll go back to when I got here. If you compared their quarterbacks from 1999 to 2005, I think you would find they had better pro guys than (the Big Ten Conference) did. That is my observation without doing a study on it.”