Ferentz Sees a Lot of Northern Illinois in Ball State

Sept. 2, 2014

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz sees a lot of Northern Illinois in Saturday’s foe Ball State. That’s a scary proposition considering the Huskies are the last nonconference team to defeat the Hawkeyes inside Kinnick Stadium.

“When you’re looking at Ball State, you’re looking at a team that’s similar to (Northern Illinois) in terms of the quality of their football and how they’re coached,” Ferentz said Tuesday during his weekly news conference inside the Hayden Fry Football Complex. “They’re an excellent football team. They play well on the road, well at home, and are balanced offensively, defensively, and on special teams.”


The Cardinals have won 17 of their last 19 regular season games. Ball State finished 10-3 overall last season, and opened its 2014 campaign with a 30-10 victory over Colgate, limiting the Raiders to 227 yards and nine first downs.

Ball State had two 100-yard rushers in its opener (Horactio Banks, 134 yards; Jahwan Edwards, 109 yards), and first-year quarterback Ozzie Mann threw for 203 yards and two touchdowns.

“They’re balanced, and they want to be balanced”, said Ferentz. “They’ve got good play-action off their running game, and their running game is effective and strong.

“It is going to be another challenge for us. We’re going to need to take a step forward and improve this week to be ready for another big game.”

Iowa is 2-0 all-time against Ball State, winning 56-0 in 2005 and 45-0 in 2010.

“It is going to be another challenge for us. We’re going to need to take a step forward and improve this week to be ready for another big game.”
UI head coach Kirk Ferentz

Ferentz was happy with the team’s effort in its 31-23 victory over Northern Iowa, but he said the most displeasing part of the game was the Panthers’ ability to produce big plays. Northern Iowa had seven plays of 20 or more yards that accounted for 279 of its 405 yards of total offense.

“Anytime you have something like that, it involves someone on the front end and the secondary,” said Ferentz. “It’s something we’ll continue to work on. If we’re going to have a good defensive ball club, we’re going to have to eliminate those things, and that’s a team thing.”

Ferentz called sophomore Greg Mabin’s performance in his Hawkeye debut one of the highlights. The Fort Lauderdale, Florida, native had four tackles and came up with the game-clinching interception.

“Greg did a good job his first time out,” said Ferentz. “I think I’m safe saying just about anybody who hasn’t played that did play did some positive things. Not that they can’t get better, but at least there weren’t any major gaffes or terrible breakdowns.”

Ferentz says the team’s downfield passing attack will come with time. Junior Jake Rudock completed 31-of-41 attempts for 256 yards, connecting with 13 different players, but only one completion went for more than 20 yards (a 46-yarder to Derrick Willies). Northern Iowa was flagged for two pass interference calls on two attempts down field.

“There were a couple of opportunities that maybe there was pressure and we didn’t see it,” said Ferentz. “That’s part of offense, and there are going to be a couple of plays where you say `Geez, this was opening up.’ As we move forward, we’ll be a bit better at that and get a few more of those big plays in the repertoire.”

Ferentz says the kicker and punter positions — and all positions for that matter — are open, but he is giving junior place kicker Marshall Koehn and junior punter Dillon Kidd every opportunity to succeed. Koehn was 1-for-2 on field goal attempts against Northern Iowa, while Kidd punted four times for an average of 36.2 yards.

“I know Marshall would have liked to have gotten that one field goal, and we’d feel better about that, and Dillon punted OK,” said Ferentz. “He can punt better, has punted better, and I think that’ll come.

“It’s no good if they’re looking over their shoulders. You can’t do that. It’s in fairness to both those guys that we’ve got to let them complete a little bit and perform, and then we’ll see how it goes.”

Ferentz said the time will come when redshirt sophomore C.J. Beathard will be inserted into a game as a change-of-pace quarterback, but when is still a question.

“It’ll happen,” said Ferentz. “I can’t tell you when, I can’t tell you if it’s going to be this week or next week, but it’ll happen. It’s not a knock on him, but the game (against UNI) was just one of those deals. We’ll figure that out, and we’ve talked about it, but whenever it happens, it’ll happen.”

Saturday’s game will kick off at 2:35 p.m. (CT), and it will be televised on ESPN2 with Beth Mowins, Joey Galloway, and Paul Carcaterra on the call. Tickets are available for purchase by contacting (800) IA-HAWKS or visiting hawkeyesports.com.

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