Hawkeyes Welcome Test of Stopping Pitt's Run Game

Sept. 15, 2014

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    IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Pittsburgh runs the football. The University of Iowa stops the run.

    Saturday’s final nonconference tuneup for the Hawkeyes could come down to a mano-a-mano test of will. Pitt puts its 3-0 record on the line against Iowa (2-1) with a scheduled 11:01 a.m. (CT) kickoff from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.


    “It is going to come down to who wants it more and that will determine who is going to win that battle,” said UI senior defensive tackle Louis Trinca-Pasat. “We have an opportunity to make some plays and we accept the challenge.”

    Pitt averages 344.3 rushing yards per game, fourth in NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision. Sophomore running back James Conner has carried the ball 81 times for 544 yards (6.7 yards per attempt) with eight touchdowns. Only Aaron Jones on UTEP has more yards on the ground this season.

    “It will be a big test for us and we look forward to it up front,” said UI senior defensive tackle Carl Davis. “It is going to be a new stage compared to the teams we have been playing, but we look forward to the challenge and how we match up.”

    Iowa allows 65.7 rushing yards a game (sixth in NCAA FBS) and has 19 tackles for loss. Trinca-Pasat leads the way with four tackles for loss, followed by junior defensive end Drew Ott (3.5) and senior linebacker Quinton Alston (three).

    “It is going to come down to who wants it more and that will determine who is going to win that battle. We have an opportunity to make some plays and we accept the challenge.”
    Louis Trinca-Pasat
    UI defensive tackle

    “I love physical football so this is a great test for us,” Alston said. “It is a test that we need especially since we are about to go into Big Ten play. I feel good; it’s going to be a race to the ball and I want to be the first to the ball and try to get some TFLs (tackles for loss) out of it.”

    Iowa and Pitt have played twice since 2008, with each team winning a tight game on its home field. In 2008, the Panthers held on for a 21-20 victory despite 147 rushing yards from Hawkeye Shonn Greene. In 2011, Iowa overcame a 24-3 third-quarter deficit by scoring the final three touchdowns — two to wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley — to post a 31-27 win.

    “It was a great atmosphere and it was a big win for that team at that point,” Martin-Manley said of the 2011 matchup. “Being a young guy, you’re confident, but at the same time when you don’t see the plays happen you kind of get down. When you do see those plays, you’re like `alright I can do it’ because you have done it before.”

    UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said statistics after three weeks — like rankings — tell something, but not everything. He was referring to the Panthers running for 1,033 yards and passing for 304. They can do both well, Ferentz warns.

    “Pitt isn’t throwing the ball much right now because they haven’t had to.” Ferentz said. “They can throw the ball.”

    The Hawkeyes have not allowed a 100-yard rusher all season. Ball State ran the ball 39 times for a total of 90 yards — 81 coming from running back Jahwan Edwards. Northern Iowa rushed 25 times for 25 yards and Iowa State attempted 26 runs for 82 yards.

    “It’s going to be a real challenge (slowing Conner),” Ferentz said. “He’s strong and fast. He has the ability to see and pick holes. They’re big and athletic up front. It’s a tough group to prepare for.”

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