Sept. 13, 2015
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa football team compiled 475 yards Saturday during a 31-17 win at Iowa State. The Hawkeye defense limited the Cyclones to 66 yards in the second half and five yards on 11 rushing attempts.
But a day after improving to 2-0 and bringing the Cy-Hawk Trophy back to Iowa City, UI head coach Kirk Ferentz stressed punting game — both punt and punt return.
Hawkeye junior Riley McCarron will be remembered for hauling in a go-ahead 25-yard touchdown pass from C.J. Beathard with 2:14 left in the game. But his first impact came on the game’s fourth play. A week earlier, Iowa State returned eight punts for 193 yards against Northern Iowa.
“We had a lot of respect for their special teams going into the game,” Ferentz said Sunday during an exclusive interview with hawkeyesports.com.
The first punt by Iowa’s Dillon Kidd sailed 55 yards to Iowa State’s Allen Lazard, who was dropped for no gain by McCarron.
“Riley McCarron went down and covered that first punt and did a good job holding the return guy to no yards,” Ferentz said. “And Dillon Kidd had his best day as a Hawkeye. He had five punts, no return yardage, three were fair caught. He punted outstanding.”
Kidd averaged 47.4 yards on the five punts. Two went 50 or more yards and two landed inside the Cyclone 20.
“It was a great challenge to play on the road and in a tough environment. That is a credit to our team to handle that environment and come out with a passing grade. Now we come back home and that’s always a great thing. It’s exciting to come back to Kinnick in any circumstance, but to play a night game there is always special and significant. We’re hoping there will be a great crowd, I’m confident there will be. We’re hopeful we will put on the kind of performance our fans can embrace and take pride in watching.”
UI football coach
UI junior Desmond King turned in a play of the game late when he fielded a punt at his own 16 and took it out to midfield. Seven plays later, the Hawkeyes scored and had the lead for good.
“Obviously the punt return at the end, Desmond King did a great job getting the ball to midfield and setting us up with great field position,” Ferentz said.
Iowa trailed Iowa State 17-10 at halftime. The Cyclones amassed 244 yards on 31 plays, with 186 of those yards coming through the air. It was a different story in the second half. The Hawkeyes allowed 66 total yards over the final 30 minutes; Iowa State was 7-of-20 passing for 61 yards and an interception to go along with 11 rushes for five yards.
“The guys got a better feel for what we were doing,” Ferentz said. “They made adjustments and some came from the players, which is a testament to them. They are thinking football and doing a good job of communicating with each other and playing logically out there.”
The Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series game showcased impressive appearances by redshirt freshman defensive end Parker Hesse and senior running back Jordan Canzeri. Canzeri rushed 24 times for 124 yards and a touchdown; Hesse made three tackles.
“We’ll see how this week goes,” Ferentz said. “We’re hopeful they can get back, but we can’t count on that. We have to proceed like they are not going to be there.”
The Hawkeyes return home to face an undefeated Pittsburgh team coached by former Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi. The Panthers have defeated Youngstown State (45-37) and Akron (24-7). This will be the second of three straight road games for Pittsburgh.
“It was a great challenge to play on the road and in a tough environment,” Ferentz said. “That is a credit to our team to handle that environment and come out with a passing grade. Now we come back home and that’s always a great thing. It’s exciting to come back to Kinnick in any circumstance, but to play a night game there is always special and significant. We’re hoping there will be a great crowd, I’m confident there will be. We’re hopeful we will put on the kind of performance our fans can embrace and take pride in watching.”
Last season at Heinz Field, Iowa overcame a 17-7 halftime deficit to defeat the Panthers 24-20. During the second half run, Beathard completed 7-of-8 passes for 98 yards.
It will be the annual Black and Gold Spirit Game, as well as America Needs Farmers Day, inside Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 19 with a 7 p.m. (CT) kickoff. To see whether you are asked to wear black or gold, click HERE. To purchase game tickets, click HERE.