IOWA CITY– Iowa is 3-0... that sounds a lot better than 2-1, which could have been if Broderick Binns and Jeremiha Hunter didn’t block back-to-back field goals against UNI in the first game of the season.
Iowa’s 27-17 win over a good Arizona Wildcat team wasn’t flashy; it was more workman-like.
The defense stepped up, the offense was productive and Ryan Donahue is the early season MVP as a punter.
“Arizona is a tough, hard-nosed football team,” said Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz. “That’s what you’d expect from a Mike Stoops-coached team. It was a tough game, but boy, I’ll tell you our fans were fantastic, I thought our players really played well and Ed Podalak is the only honorary captain to be 2-0 right now.”
Way to go Eddie!
Let’s start with the defense.
“We knew, defensively, that they were as good as anybody we’ve played… USC included,” said Mike Stoops.
If you take away the pass interception that was returned for a score in the first half, the defense gives up only 10 points… 29 for the year. That’s less than 10 points per game.
Arizona came into the game averaging more than 300 rushing yards per game. The Hawks held them to 148.
Nic Grigsby, Arizona’s flashy running back, came into the game ranked second in the nation in rushing with a 162.5 average. He left with 75 yards including a 58-yard run to the 1-yard-line. Iowa held the Cats to a field goal on that drive.
The Hawkeyes held the Wildcats to only eight first downs (Iowa had 19), the Cats were 2-12 on third down conversions (Iowa 10-19) and Arizona only had the ball for 22:04 minutes, the Hawks 37.56.
The “D” was led by Tyler Sash, the three linebackers and Adrian Clayborn.
Tyler had another pick, added five tackles and a pass breakup.
The three linebackers; Jeremiha Hunter, Pat Angerer and A.J. Edds combined for 16 tackles, two pass breakups and one tackle for a loss.
Adrian, 6-4, 285, went off on the Cats with six tackles, three quarterback hurries, one forced fumble, one tackle for a loss and one sack.
He ran down speedy tailback Nic Grigsby TWICE!
“That was the best play I’ve ever seen,” said Pat Angerer. “That was unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Karl Klug also had a sack with five tackles and Christian Ballard had a quarterback hurry.
“I just think we had a fire under us today to prove something to the whole team,” said Adrian. “We can get so much better.”
The special teams were led by Ryan Donahue who averaged 51 yards a punt, kicking one 62 yards. Those are Reggie Roby-type numbers.
Ryan was named co-special teams player of the week in the Big Ten for his performance.
Daniel Murray was 2-2 on field goals and made all three extra points.
This nice part on Daniel doing so well is that now Trent Mossbrucker can redshirt. Dan is a junior and Trent, who played as a true freshman and led the Big Ten in field goal percentage last year, is a sophomore.
The offense was without three of its top players; tackle Bryan Bulaga, tight end Tony Moeaki and wide receiver DJ Koulianos.
Two of Iowa’s deepest positions are offensive line and wide receiver and the ‘next man in’ motto has been in play.
Riley Reiff stepped in for the second week to replace Bryan and did a solid job.
Colin Sandeman made his first start of the year and led the team with five receptions. Marvin McNutt came off the bench and had a couple of big catches for 50 yards.
Allen Reisner also had three big receptions for 40 yards.
I thought Rick Stanzi had a good game, going 20-32 for 205 yards. He was a big reason the Hawks converted 10-19 on third down.
I really like the one-two punch of Adam Robinson and Brandon Wegner.
Adam just keeps getting better, pounding out 102 yards on 18 carries. His 43-yard burst came when Iowa was facing a third and 23 which set up the Hawks' go-ahead touchdown in the second quarter. Adam scored two touchdowns last Saturday, is gaining confidence on every run and has great balance.
Brandon was drawing a lot of attention from the Wildcat defense but he still picked up 46 yards on 17 carries. He also caught two passes and scored on a two-yard leap that reminded me a little of Walter Payton.
I like the two-man rotation because it keeps them both fresh and it’s a long season. I look for Jeff Brinson to get some carries before it’s all over.
It’s going to get a lot tougher next Saturday when the Hawks travel to Penn State. The Nittany Lions (3-0) will be snarling after Iowa’s last second win at Kinnick last year. Penn State was undefeated coming into that game and this year's game is a 7 pm start at State College. It will be rocking.
Iowa is still not ranked while Penn State checks in at No. 5. The Nittany Lions start out as 11-point favorites.