Nov. 6, 2014
- Hawkeye Football Game Day
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- Big Ten Network: Free Hawkeye Video
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
By CHRIS BREWER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The last time Iowa and Minnesota met both teams were looking for a quick jump to the front of the then-Legends Division.
Minnesota was 4-0 entering the 2013 Big Ten opener. Iowa was 3-1.
The Gophers averaged 282 rushing yards while sweeping though the non-conference schedule, but against the Hawkeyes, they mustered 30 yards on 27 carries. The result was a 23-7 Hawkeye win.
“That was a good step forward,” said defensive line coach Reese Morgan. “We were ready to go, focused, and really detailed with our run fits and our leverage. Minnesota remembers it too. They’re going to be ready to go.”
Fast forward one year and Saturday’s matchup features similarities to 2013. Again the battle for Floyd takes place in Minneapolis, and again a spot on top of the division is on the line. The winner moves to 4-1 in the Big Ten West and into a first place tie with idle Nebraska.
Similar to last season, the Gophers feature an offense that feeds off the running game. Running back David Cobb ranks sixth in the nation averaging 141.4 rushing yards per game, more than the entire Gopher pass offense has averaged through eight games.
“Their running back is outstanding,” said Morgan. “(He has) great balance, great power, great vision, and he’ll get yards after contact. Everything revolves around him.
“The best passing they do is play-action pass, where they fake it to him and throw the ball deep. That’s where their high percentage of passes are, so we have got to get them off schedule and play well on first and second down so they don’t have a third and manageable situation.”
Last week most everything was manageable for Iowa and the defensive line put together arguably its best outing of the season, recording four sacks and five tackles-for-loss in a 48-7 win over Northwestern.
“I think our guys were ready to play football,” said Morgan. “The entire team — offensively, defensively, special teams. Our guys were in the right frame of mind coming off that Maryland game. We had a chance to practice, work on our fundamentals, go good against good, and I think our guys were highly motivated and ready to go at kickoff.”
Louis Trinca-Pasat led Iowa with three sacks against the Wildcats, nearly doubling his career total (6.5). His efforts garnered co-defensive player of the week honors from the Big Ten, but Morgan shared the wealth with the entire defense.
“If Louie has an honor, it really goes to all the guys,” said Morgan. “It can’t be just a focus on one guy because any time a guy makes a play, there are other guys directly involved. Not only the guys up front, but the guys at the linebacker and secondary positions.
“It is a really good group of guys. They really do want to do well. They have great respect for each other, they care about each other, and they want to be good. It is certainly an honor to work with these guys.”
The Hawkeyes (6-2, 3-1) and Gophers (6-2, 3-1) kickoff Saturday at 11 a.m. (CT) at TCF Bank Stadium. The game will be televised by ESPN2.