Battle for Floyd an Even Tug-o-War

Nov. 4, 2014

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa football team is coming off its best special teams performance of the season; Minnesota is second in the Big Ten Conference in kickoff returns and kick coverage.

The Hawkeye defensive line did the dirty work Nov. 1, limited Northwestern to 105 net rushing yards; running behind a veteran offensive line, Minnesota’s David Cobb is sixth in the nation with 141.4 rushing yards a game.

“It ought to be a real tough contest on both sides,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday at his weekly news conference in the Hayden Fry Football Complex.


For the fourth time in five seasons, Iowa heads north to TCF Bank Stadium to play the Golden Gophers on Nov. 8 with an 11 a.m. (CT) kickoff. The traveling trophy Floyd of Rosedale is at stake. The Hawkeyes won the last two meetings — 31-13 in Kinnick Stadium in 2012, and 23-7 last season in Minneapolis.

“Nobody owns (Floyd) right now, that’s what the game’s all about, and we’ll see how it goes Saturday,” Ferentz said.

Both teams enter the game with records of 6-2 overall, 3-1 in the Big Ten. Minnesota is 5-0 at home this season.

“For us to get to 7-2, it’s going to take a good week of work and preparation and more importantly, we’ll have to play our best football Saturday.”
UI head coach Kirk Ferentz

“For us to get to 7-2, it’s going to take a good week of work and preparation and more importantly, we’ll have to play our best football Saturday,” Ferentz said.

Questions about the emergence of redshirt freshman running back Akrum Wadley consumed the early portion of the news conference. The reigning Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Week rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown during a 48-7 win against Northwestern. He has made an impact in practice, too, earning the team’s Scout Team Player of the Week honor.

“He has done some good things (in practice),” Ferentz said. “You never know until a guy gets out there. He has a long way to go, but he has a good attitude, and he enjoys practice and his teammates.”

Speaking of running game, Minnesota thrives on keeping the ball on the ground. The Gophers have run the ball an average of 26.9 more times per game than they have thrown. Iowa also tries to control the clock with help from its potent rushing attack, but the Hawkeyes are more balanced, averaging 39.5 runs and 36 passes a game.

“The good news is this (game) might go pretty quickly,” Ferentz joked.

Iowa had won four consecutive regular-season games away from Kinnick Stadium before losing a 14-0 lead — and the game — at Maryland on Oct. 18. The Hawkeyes kept their feet on the gas against Northwestern, going up 24-0 in the first quarter and 38-7 at halftime.

Ferentz said the difference was execution in three areas.

“It’s hard to be a good football team if you don’t tackle well,” Ferentz said. “If you have a lot of self-inflicted wounds, major penalties, and if you turn the ball over in any conference game, it’s not realistic to think you’re going to win.”

Against Maryland, the Hawkeyes had seven penalties for 65 yards; that was down to five penalties for 35 yards against Northwestern.

Against Maryland, the Hawkeyes lost two fumbles and a pick-six interception; they had one lost fumble against Northwestern.

Ferentz didn’t take the bait when told there is a sense among “college football people” not to buy into Minnesota, despite its 6-2 record.

“If you don’t have to compete against them, you can (say) things like that,” Ferentz said. “It’s a lot easier to talk about things if you don’t have to do it. People are probably saying the same things about us. That would make it an even match.”

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