Sept. 1, 2014, 2014
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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Remember Tevaun Smith’s 55-yard catch and run against Michigan last November, a key play that ignited the University of Iowa football team to a 24-21 comeback victory?
As impressive as that was, it slipped two notches on the Tevaun Smith Highlight Reel after the Hawkeyes opened the 2014 season with a 31-23 victory Aug. 30 against Northern Iowa.
Smith, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound junior wide receiver from Toronto, Ontario, caught passes in nine consecutive games last season, but that streak ended in the regular-season finale — a 38-17 Iowa win at Nebraska. He was catch-less in the Outback Bowl, too. But in the first game of 2014, Smith grabbed the offensive spotlight in two different and spectacular ways.
His prized series was the first of the third quarter. Smith began the second half with a 35-yard run — accounting for one more net rushing yard than any other player in the game. Three plays later, Smith used only his right hand to haul in a 6-yard touchdown pass from Jake Rudock. More importantly, the Hawkeyes owned an insurmountable 24-13 lead.
“I tried to give the offense a spark and that play gave us a lot of energy,” Smith said of the run. “The catch was something we needed and I was glad to make those plays.”
Smith finished with three catches for 17 yards and one rush for 35 yards. It wasn’t the most all-purpose yards he has gained in a game, but the way they were compiled was striking.
The call to begin the second half was by design. The route traveled was not.“I tried to give the offense a spark and that play gave us a lot of energy. The catch was something we needed and I was glad to make those plays.”Tevaun Smith
UI junior receiver
Smith was informed of the play at halftime: it would be a reverse to his left heading toward the Northern Iowa sideline. With the ball on Iowa’s 43, Rudock faked a handoff to LeShun Daniels, Jr., instead giving the ball to Smith, who avoided UNI linebacker Brett McMakin at the 39 and had clear sailing to the Panther 48. Smith then reversed direction to his right, passing four UNI defenders while backtracking to the Iowa 45. Rudock momentarily became a lead blocker as Smith advanced to the Panther 22, where he stepped out of bounds, ending the big play with a big gain.
“I saw too many guys where I was going and I saw a little open field on the right side,” Smith said. “There were just two linemen and I thought I could beat them around the corner.”
Smith avoided or outran all 11 UNI defenders at some point during the play.
After a run by Daniels and a pass completion from Rudock to tight end Jake Duzey, Smith again brought the Kinnick Stadium crowd of 66,805 to its feet.
Smith was being defended by cornerback Makinton Dorleant, a transfer from the University of Maryland who was named to the All-Missouri Valley Football Conference second team a year ago. Smith elevated above the 5-11 Dorleant, grabbed the pass from Rudock with his right hand, and secured it with his left as he fell to the ground in the far corner of the end zone.
“He was pressing me pretty hard and I had to use my left arm a little bit to get separation,” Smith said. “I couldn’t get up with two hands, so I got up with one.”
Rudock, who completed 31 passes to 13 different receivers, saw Smith make plays like that in preseason camp.
“It was man-to-man coverage, I thought he had a good chance of doing this, he has done a good job against our defense in man-to-man,” Rudock said. “I gave him a shot and he did a great job pulling it in.”
Which play did Smith enjoy most?
“I liked both of them, but the touchdown is what we needed, so that was more of a highlight,” he said.
It was the second touchdown of Smith’s career. The first against Michigan in 2013 gave him more than confidence; it fueled a desire for more like it.
“To have one of those in the first game was exciting for myself and for the team,” Smith said.
UI head coach Kirk Ferentz has seen a lot of football games in his career, but Smith’s zig-zag reverse-reverse was a first.
“I’ve never seen one quite like that, at least in a real game,” Ferentz said. “That was a big play — and then the catch he made down there — I’m eager to see a replay because that looked like a thing of beauty live. If you’re going to have a good team, you need guys stepping up and doing things like that.”
Iowa returns to Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 6 to face Ball State with a 2:30 p.m. (CT) kickoff. The Cardinals are coming off a 30-10 victory against Colgate.