By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — After two losses to nationally ranked Big Ten opponents, the University of Iowa will focus on “clean-up” week as it prepares for its Homecoming game Oct. 19 against Purdue.
“We have a good football team, the guys have worked extremely hard,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said Sunday. “We have a lot of things we are doing well, we just have to clean up the areas we are not and put a good game together.”
The Hawkeyes (4-2 overall, 1-2 Big Ten) dropped games to Big Ten East Division opponents Michigan and Penn State by a combined 12 points. Iowa plays Purdue (2-4, 1-2) on Saturday with an 11 a.m. (CT) kick.
Iowa moves the ball, but doesn’t capitalize in critical areas
The Hawkeyes out-gained Penn State, 356-294, but didn’t get into the end zone until 2:31 remained in the game.
“Two things that stand out: opportunity to get a touchdown when we were down in their territory and came up empty, and then the turnover part (fumble and interception),” Ferentz said. “That is the biggest issue for us, doing better job on turnovers and takeaways.
“All that being said, we have played good defense both weeks and gave ourselves a chance to be successful.”
On average in the second half against Penn State, Iowa’s starting field position was its own 10-yard-line. For the game, it was its own 17.
“Somehow we’re going to have to find a way to flip that and be more opportunistic,” Ferentz said. “It’s tougher to score points when you have to drive the ball over 80 yards; the odds aren’t with you on that one.
“Somehow, some way, we have to help flip the field position, whether it’s on special teams or coming up with a takeaway. Those have been missing the last two weeks that impact the final score in a game.”
At the midway point of the season
The Hawkeyes sit at 4-2 after the first six games of a 12-game regular season. The final six games are against Big Ten West Division foes.
“The big thing for us is focusing on this week and what improvements we can make and how fast can we make them?” Ferentz said. “There are things off the tape that need cleaned up and that is where our focus will be this week.
“The best way to approach a Big Ten schedule is take it one week and one challenge at a time. It is important for us to look inward and make sure we’re doing all we can to improve.”
Defense adds depth
Cornerback Matt Hankins, lineman Brady Reiff, and cornerback Riley Moss all returned to action against Penn State. That strengthens a defense that is fifth in the nation in scoring defense (10.2 points per game) and total defense (260.8 yards per game).
Hankins made seven tackles against the Nittany Lions; Reiff added six.
“To get Brady back gives us more experience, grit, and depth up front, so it was great having him back in the starting lineup,” Ferentz said. “We weren’t sure how much Matt Hankins would be able to play, but he held up fine at the corner position, and also Riley Moss. Getting those guys back helps us on the defensive end and with the corners, will help us special team-wise as we move forward. Those are all positives for us.”
Iowa football hosts Minnesota in the battle for Floyd of Rosedale on Saturday, Nov. 16. Fans are encouraged to wear black for the Blackout game, and it is the annual military appreciation celebration. Active duty military and veterans are eligible for a military ticket discount. Click HERE for tickets and pre-paid parking and additional game information.