Sept. 21, 2014
- Hawkeye Football Game Day
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IOWA CITY, Iowa – The Iowa Hawkeyes (3-1) were up to the challenge at Pittsburgh on Saturday, coming back from a 17-7 halftime deficit for a 24-20 win, recording their third straight road win over the last two seasons. The win over a previously undefeated Pitt squad did not come easy and featured a total team effort.
“We were pleased with the way the guys handled the challenge of playing on the road,” said Ferentz. “I thought we did a good job of that last year as well, and certainly this weekend they handled all the logistics of the travel of our first road trip.”
Iowa has long used the “next man in” mantra, and key contributions were made by a number of young players in order for the Hawkeyes to win their first road game of the season. Defensive backs Anthony Gair and Maurice Fleming each started for the first time in their careers, while sophomore quarterback C.J. Beathard took every offensive snap in the second half and redshirt freshman John Kenny filled in nicely at fullback.
Beathard, Fleming and Kenny were all on the field in place of injured teammates, while Gair was in the starting lineup due to a rule that forced Jordan Lomax to sit out the first half. Overall, the Hawkeyes rotated a number of players throughout the day in the most recent of their three wins.
“Our plan going in was to spread some reps around a little bit, to keep the starters as fresh as possible,” said Ferentz. “With some injuries and other situations, it gave us a little more impetus to follow that. A lot of guys played and I think it was beneficial; it helped us play better, especially in the second half. Down the road, when guys play, it gives them a little more ownership in practice, and game experience is very important to their development. So hopefully we will grow as a team as a result.
“On defense, Anthony did a good job a week ago, and he stepped in and played well in the first half for Jordan,” said Ferentz. “Maurice was in there due to Greg’s injury during the week, then he (Fleming) got dinged up a little during the game and Greg was able to come in and play well. Josey Jewell was able to get in there for Reggie (Spearman) when he was injured. Those three guys did a good job. John Kenny has quietly done a nice job in a couple weeks’ time converting to fullback with Macon being out.”
Beathard completed 7-8 passes for 98 yards to lead Iowa to 17 points in the second half. Kenny’s only stat was a five-yard reception, but he blocked well in assisting the Iowa offense. Gair came up with his first career interception on the final play of the game while collecting three tackles, while Fleming contributed two tackles.
“Everybody took notice of C.J., he came in and did a wonderful job,” said Ferentz. “I thought Jake (Rudock) was playing well, but he couldn’t go in the second half. C.J. came in and did an excellent job; made some big conversions and hit the deep ball.
“I think overall we came through pretty clean on injuries,” said Ferentz. “The biggest concern probably would be Jake, he is going to be day-to-day, he is sore today. We’ll have to see how it goes over the next two or three days, hopefully we’ll get him back mid-week or towards the end of the week certainly. I don’t think it is anything real serious. But we’ll know more here in the next couple days.”
One recipient of Kenny’s blocking skills was Mark Weisman, who led the Iowa rushing attack with 22 carries for 88 yards. Weisman had scoring runs of 10 yards and one yard. Weisman now has 20 career rushing touchdowns and 1,974 career rushing yards. He is on the verge of becoming just the seventh Hawkeye to surpass 2,000 rushing yards and 20 or more rushing touchdowns.
“I thought our run game looked healthier yesterday,” said Ferentz. “Mark has been such a big part of that over the last several years. He is entering into some elite company, with the yardage and touchdown combination with the group that is in front of him. When you think of Mark transitioning, early season in 2012, what he has done in two years’ time really speaks to the kind of young man he is. He is a tremendous guy with a great attitude. I don’t know if we’ve had a guy work any harder than Mark.”
Game time Saturday at Purdue is 11:01 a.m. CT. Following the first of two bye weeks on the schedule (Oct. 4), the Hawkeyes host Indiana for Homecoming on Oct. 11 (11 a.m.).