Sept. 29, 2013
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MINNEAPOLIS — There are plenty of story lines as to why the Floyd of Rosedale trophy is returning to the Hayden Fry Football Complex in Iowa City. Two of them are offensive and defensive lines.
The University of Iowa flexed its muscle in the Big Ten Conference opener, controlling both lines of scrimmage during a 23-7 victory against Minnesota in TCF Bank Stadium. The same TCF Bank Stadium that was site to two previous Hawkeye heartbreaks.
The Golden Gophers entered Saturday’s rivalry game averaging 282.2 yards per game on the ground. Iowa held them 252.2 yards below that total.
Minnesota also allowed an average of 102.8 rushing yards per game. Iowa gained 143.2 yards above that total.
“It felt great, there is nothing like breaking somebody’s will,” UI junior defensive tackle Carl Davis said. “We try to be a physical team and that’s what we did.”
Four different Gophers carried the ball and the top two ground-gainers were Roderick Williams with 22 yards and David Cobb with 20 — Hawkeyes Damon Bullock and Jake Rudock both gained 22 yards on one attempt. As a team, Minnesota averaged 1.1 yards per 27 tries.
“We knew they were going to run so it always starts up front for us, that’s always our focus,” said UI junior defensive tackle Louis Trinca-Pasat. “As long as we’re able to do our job, it helps the linebackers and the defense overall.”
Minnesota’s interior linemen weigh 326, 321, 306, 302 and 302 pounds. It takes quite a perfromance to seize an advantage over a group that size.
“(Minnesota) had done a great job running the football and our coaches did a good job with the game plan. The guys did a good job during the week getting the plan down and (Saturday) they competed hard. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy and there was nothing easy about it. It took full concentration and full effort every play.”
UI football coach
“(Minnesota) had done a great job running the football and our coaches did a good job with the game plan,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “The guys did a good job during the week getting the plan down and (Saturday) they competed hard. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy and there was nothing easy about it. It took full concentration and full effort every play.”
But 30 yards? It marks the fourth consecutive game that a team rushed for less than 75 yards against the Hawkeyes: Western Michigan (74 on Sept. 21), Missouri State (70 on Sept. 7) and Iowa State (59 on Sept. 14).
“This all started in practice last week,” Davis said. “We knew we could win up front if we played physical and that’s what we did. We knocked guys back, shed the blockers, and got to the ball and made tackles. We hold ourselves to a high standard as a defensive unit and we want to be as close to perfect as we can because defense wins championships.”
Iowa entered the game at Minnesota with two quarterback sacks in four games; it now has six after dropping Phillip Nelson four times.
On the other side of the ball, the Hawkeyes ran for 246 yards, the fifth time this season they have picked up more than 200 yards on the ground. Leading the way was junior running back Mark Weisman with 147 yards and an average of 6.1 yards a carry.
“Our offensive line did an unbelievable job out there making it easy for us running backs,” Weisman said. “They have been doing that the whole season and it’s fun to run behind them. They don’t need any motivation. They want to go in there and beat guys up.”
Ferentz credited the UI offensive linemen for working hard and playing relatively penalty-free.
“The most physical team was going to come out with a win and we did that at times,” UI junior left tackle Brandon Scherff said. “At other times we kind of lacked a little bit, but we got the win and that’s what we came here for.”
“You want to be the best line,” UI senior right tackle Brett Van Sloten said. “We knew up front (Minnesota) was going to be good. We knew they were going to come out hungry and they did. They played a good game; we were able to get some runs in there and that is a credit to the running backs. They ran their tails off.”
When the Hawkeyes needed a clock-chewing, game-clinching drive, they got it. Leading 20-7 early in the fourth quarter, Iowa put together an 11-play, 62-yard scoring drive that consumed 5 ½ minutes. The series included eight runs, two completed passes and a 46-yard field goal by Mike Meyer.
“(Offensive line coach) Brian Ferentz mentioned that we had an opportunity to finish there at the end,” Van Sloten said. “It was in our hands, the running backs ran great, and we were able to seal the deal.”
The Hawkeyes own a 4-1 record with four straight victories. After one week, they are alone on top of the Legends Division.
“Whether it’s ugly or pretty, wins are wins and they’re hard to come by,” Kirk Ferentz said. “In conference play they are really hard to come by. I’m pleased and I’m pleased for our players. They worked hard for this.”