Oct. 4, 2015
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- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — If you want a label for the 2015 University of Iowa football season after five weeks, start with “team football.”
On Oct. 3 at Wisconsin, the Hawkeye defense was on the field 9 minutes and 18 seconds in the fourth quarter. Despite the fact the Badgers started drives from Iowa’s 27 and their own 41 and 47 yards lines, the Hawkeye defense did not allow a point during a 10-6 victory.
On Sept. 19 against Pittsburgh, the fourth quarter was defined by a seven-play, 31-yard offensive drive by the Hawkeyes that consumed the final 52 seconds of a 27-24 victory.
“The offense was on the field to end the game against Pittsburgh and the defensive unit was out there to finish it yesterday,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said Sunday during an exclusive interview with hawkeyesports.com. “That is what team football is all about and the more of those experiences you can get when they are positive is a great thing for our football team.”
Iowa is 5-0 overall, 1-0 in the Big Ten Conference. The Hawkeyes are ranked No. 22 by The Associated Press and No. 23 in the Coaches Poll.
“We’re happy to be ranked right now, but not overly excited about it,” Ferentz said. “Only in a sense we are five weeks into the season so it doesn’t mean all that much. Our guys have played well and played hard and that’s the most important thing.”
Ferentz said a lesson should have been learned yesterday when Big Ten Conference games became final.
“We’re happy to be ranked right now, but not overly excited about it. Only in a sense we are five weeks into the season so it doesn’t mean all that much. Our guys have played well and played hard and that’s the most important thing.”
UI football coach
“There are a lot of scores that might have raised eyebrows,” he said. “You can’t always tell in the first week of the season what is going to take place. To follow that up, I don’t think anybody can predict what is going to happen in the next six, seven, eight weeks. There will be a lot of twists and turns, that is very common in conference play.”
The Hawkeyes enter the second week of Big Ten action against an Illinois team that is 4-1 and scored the final 14 points Saturday to defeat Nebraska. Iowa won 30-14 last season in Champaign.
“Illinois is a much improved football team,” Ferentz said. “They are no means like the team that we defeated last year. We’re going to have a tough challenge on our hand and we’ll have to be at our best to win this game.”
Ferentz complimented senior punter Dillon Kidd for his game against Wisconsin. Kidd punted five times for an average of 41.2 yards and one inside the Badger 20. His two punts in the fourth quarter went 52 and 50 yards.
“Our special teams in general have made a big improvement,” Ferentz said. “We’re playing a lot better on special teams and Dillon is a big part of that. Boy, he came up huge with two really great punts at the end of the game when we needed both of those badly.”
Wisconsin entered Saturday’s game allowing 82.8 yards a game on the ground. Iowa finished with 144 rushing yards and senior running back Jordan Canzeri accounted for 125 yards on 26 carries. He was assisted by a resilient offensive line, tight ends, and fullbacks.
“We knew the yards would be tough to get, we knew they were going to be a little sticky and I can’t say enough about how the offensive line did and that’s with a new starter, Cole Croston, in there,” Ferentz said. “Those guys kept working and digging. You have to include the tight ends and fullbacks, they were actually our players of the game offensively. Both Macon (Plewa) and Adam Cox did a great job blocking and Jordan ran the ball well.”
Kickoff for Iowa’s Homecoming game against Illinois is set for 11 a.m. (CT). It will be televised by ESPNU. To purchase tickets, click HERE.