Oct. 19, 2013
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — In an attempt to possess the football and score points Saturday against one of the top-rated teams in the country, University of Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz implemented two and three tight end sets.
It worked. And the main benefactor was Jake Duzey.
Duzey, a sophomore from Troy, Mich., entered Saturday’s game at No. 4 Ohio State with four receptions for 31 yards. He nearly matched that total on the first drive of the game, a 12-play, 80-yarder that ended with the Hawkeyes ahead 7-0. Duzey caught three passes for 24 yards during the series that ended, appropriately, with a 2-yard touchdown pass to fellow tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz.
“I was the one that was open and got the ball thrown to me,” said Duzey, who finished with a team-high six catches for a game-high 138 yards. “We had been throwing the ball to the tight ends all week, but we didn’t know who was going to get it (against Ohio State). That’s just how it worked out.”
Sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock completed 19-of-34 passes for 245 yards and three touchdowns in his seventh start as a collegian. His first eight completions — and nine of the first 10 — went to tight ends.
“Like all the guys out there running routes, tight ends, receivers, whoever it is, I have faith in all of them,” Rudock said. “(Duzey) got open and blocked well. That made him tough to cover.”
Duzey wasn’t the only Hawkeye tight end to shine. Fiedorowicz finished with four catches for 29 yards and freshman George Kittle had a 24-yard grab, the longest play during the opening scoring drive. In total, the three tight ends combined for 11 catches, 191 yards, and two touchdowns.
“That’s a position we have felt good about going back to the spring,” Ferentz said. “We thought it might help us to possess the football and score points. For the most part we got what we wanted accomplished out of that.”
The plan worked well in the first half. During the first 15 minutes, the Hawkeyes completed eight passes to tight ends and controlled 9:30 of game clock. In the second quarter, Duzey was the only tight end with a reception, but Iowa held the ball for 8:29.
Possession time wasn’t in favor of the Hawkeyes in the second half, but part of the reason was a 40-second scoring drive by Iowa.
The quick touchdown was the biggest play from Duzey, and it came late in the third quarter with the Hawkeyes trailing 24-17. After a holding penalty put Iowa back at its own 15-yard line, Rudock hit Duzey in stride down the right sideline and the tight end showed off his wheels, running away from defensive backs for an 85-yard score. It was the ninth-longest scoring play in Hawkeye history and the second-longest by an Iowa tight end.
“I had no idea where anybody was, so I kept running and I wasn’t going to look back,” Duzey said.
“He has some speed,” Rudock said. “He ran past the guy and I was fortunate enough to get the ball off. The offensive line did a great job giving me time and he just took off.”
Duzey is the first Hawkeye receiver to accumulate more than 100 receiving yards in a game since junior Kevonte Martin-Manley caught five passes for 101 yards 16 games ago against Northern Iowa.