Jan. 2, 2016
- Hawkeye Rose Bowl Site
- Game Day Live
- 2015 UI Football Fall Camp Central
- Read the December issue of Hawk Talk Monthly
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- Big Ten Network: Free Hawkeye Video
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By DARREN MILLER
PASADENA, Calif. — It’s not the number of times you get knocked down, it’s the number of times you get back up.
On Jan. 1, 2014, the University of Iowa football team lost in the Outback Bowl, then opened the next regular season with five wins in six games.
On Jan. 2, 2015, the Hawkeyes lost in the TaxSlayer Bowl, then opened the next season with an unprecedented 12-game winning streak.
How will Iowa respond in 2016 after opening the year with a 45-16 setback to Stanford in Friday’s Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual?
“We have to use this as motivation going into next season,” said junior quarterback C.J. Beathard, who completed 21-of-33 passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns against the Cardinal. “We had a great regular season, but we didn’t finish strong. Going into next season we will have a chip on our shoulder.”
Beathard is one of five Hawkeye offensive players who started the Rose Bowl who will return in 2016. Another is junior wide receiver Matt VandeBerg, who caught four passes for 64 yards and a 36-yard touchdown. He hauled in an 18-yard touchdown from Beathard last season against Tennessee in the TaxSlayer Bowl.
“We prepared as if we were going to win the (Rose Bowl) game and obviously we didn’t get the outcome we wanted,” VandeBerg said. “Now it’s back to work. I felt this way the last two seasons, so I’m going to work hard with my teammates to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Sophomore running back Akrum Wadley didn’t start the Rose Bowl, but he finished strong, picking up 33 rushing yards on nine carries. He also caught three passes for 60 yards (all in the fourth quarter) with a 31-yard touchdown. On the season, Wadley rushed for 496 yards and seven touchdowns.
“It has been a special season all around. It’s a tribute to the seniors and the leadership they have shown. They have done a good job and we’re sad we couldn’t finish it out for them. We played poorly (in the Rose Bowl), but that doesn’t take away from the special regular season we had.”
“We’re going to keep grinding,” Wadley said. “It’s going to be a long offseason and spring ball — we’re going to stay together and disciplined and learn from our mistakes.”
Iowa’s MVP in the TaxSlayer Bowl was an unheralded freshman linebacker named Josey Jewell. In the year that followed, the second-team All-Big Ten performer led the Hawkeyes with 126 tackles and added four interceptions. Against Stanford, Jewell made seven tackles with an interception.
Jewell is one of eight Iowa Rose Bowl defensive starters who will be back in 2016.
“This will be huge motivation for next year, understanding how much we lost by and what we could have and should have done,” Jewell said. “We realize what we need to do and what we need to put in for next year.
“You have to use this as a steppingstone to next season. It wasn’t the outcome we wanted and we know the small details that we did wrong and how to fix them. We need to work our butts off in the offseason.”
No college football program will consider a 12-2 season anything but a success. The Hawkeyes went on an enchanted four-month ride made possible by hard work when no one was looking and some pretty nifty play when the spotlight was on.
It was great season, culminated by a not-so-great game. The forecast is promising that just like the end of the 2013 and 2014 seasons, the Hawkeyes will rise once again from the turf.
“It has been a special season all around,” Beathard said. “It’s a tribute to the seniors and the leadership they have shown. They have done a good job and we’re sad we couldn’t finish it out for them. We played poorly (in the Rose Bowl), but that doesn’t take away from the special regular season we had.”
The Hawkeyes return to action Sept. 3 against Miami (Ohio) inside Kinnick Stadium. Rest assured, the players and coaches will make the most of those next 246 days.