Dec. 1, 2013
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa senior linebackers James Morris and Christian Kirksey have earned multiple honors for their play in Iowa’s 38-17 win at Nebraska Friday in the third annual Hy-Vee Heroes Game. The win was Iowa’s third straight, giving the Hawkeyes a regular season record of 8-4. Iowa tied for second in the Legends Division of the Big Ten with a 5-3 conference record.
Kirksey was named national Defensive Player of the Week by the Walter Camp Football Foundation, while Morris was named National Defensive Performer and National Linebacker of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA). The CFPA named Kirksey honorable mention Linebacker of the Week and sophomore Connor Kornbrath honorable mention Punter of the Week.
College Sports Madness (collegesportsmadness.com)and Athlon Sports (athlonsports.com) each named Morris their Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. The Walter Camp Football Foundation is in its 10th year honoring and offensive and defensive Player of the Week. Previous Hawkeyes to be recognized include linebacker Chad Greenway (Sept. 5, 2004) and linebacker Mike Klinkenborg (Sept. 17, 2006).
Iowa’s defense held Nebraska to 17 points, 89 net rushing yards and 288 yards total offense. The Huskers entered the game ranked 19th nationally in rushing yards per game (233.7). The Hawkeyes recorded two sacks, two interceptions and recovered one fumble, with two of the three turnovers leading directly to touchdowns.
Kirksey (St. Louis, Mo.) led the Hawkeyes with 11 tackles, including four solo stops. He recorded three tackles for loss and one sack, to go with a caused fumble, a pass break and a quarterback pressure. Kirksey became the 17th Hawkeye defender to surpass 300 career tackles (308).
Morris (Solon, Iowa) had five solo tackles and five assists, including four tackles for loss and one sack. Morris came up with his fourth interception of the year in the first quarter, which led to Iowa’s first touchdown of the game. He also collected a pass break-up and a quarterback pressure. Morris ranks sixth in career tackles (392).
Kornbrath (Bridgeport, W.V.) has handled all punting duties this season and was recognized by CFPA for the second time (Western Michigan). He averaged 40.3 yards on seven punts, with a long of 55 yards. Three of his punts were downed inside the 20, including two inside the 10. Iowa opponents this season are averaging just 4.9 yards on 17 returns.
With its 8-4 record, Iowa is tied for third among all BCS schools in improved win total from 2012 to 2013, trailing only Auburn (+8), Boston College (+6) and Missouri (+6). The Hawkeyes are tied with Michigan State and Duke. Iowa is bowl eligible for the 12th time in 13 seasons and has won at least eight games in four of the last six years.