Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Michigan determines communication errors made in the handling of QB Shane Morris on Saturday

Sept. 30, 2014

Statement from Dave Brandon, U-M Director of Athletics

Ultimate responsibility for the health and safety of our student-athletes resides with each team's coach and with me, as the Director of Athletics. We are committed to continuously improving our procedures to better protect the health and welfare of our student-athletes.

I have had numerous meetings beginning Sunday morning to thoroughly review the situation that occurred at Saturday's football game regarding student-athlete Shane Morris. I have met with those who were directly involved and who were responsible for managing Shane's care and determining his medical fitness for participation.

In my judgment, there was a serious lack of communication that led to confusion on the sideline. Unfortunately, this confusion created a circumstance that was not in the best interest of one of our student-athletes. I sincerely apologize for the mistakes that were made. We have to learn from this situation, and moving forward, we will make important changes so we can fully live up to our shared goal of putting student-athlete safety first.

I have worked with Darryl Conway, my associate athletic director for Student-Athlete Health and Welfare, to develop a detailed accounting of the events that occurred. Darryl is the person who oversees all athletic training personnel and serves as the liaison to the physicians we work with through the University of Michigan Health System and University Health Services.

It is important to note that our athletic trainers and physicians working with Michigan Athletics have the unchallengeable authority to remove student-athletes from the field of play. Michigan Athletics has numerous medical professionals at every football competition including certified athletic trainers and several physicians from various relevant specialties.

I, along with Darryl and our administrative and medical teams, have spent much of the last two days carefully reviewing the situation regarding Shane Morris. We now understand that, despite having the right people on the sidelines assessing our student-athletes' well being, the systems we had in place were inadequate to handle this unique and complex situation properly.

With his permission, I can share that Shane Morris suffered an ankle injury during the third quarter of Saturday's game. He was evaluated for that injury by an orthopedic surgeon and an athletic trainer several times during the game. With each of these evaluations it was determined that his ankle injury did not prevent him from playing.

In the fourth quarter, Shane took a significant hit and stumbled after getting up. From the field level and without the benefit of replays, medical and coaching staffs did not see the hit. Because they did not see the hit, the athletic training staff believed Shane stumbled because of his ankle injury. The team neurologist, watching from further down the field, also did not see the hit. However, the neurologist, with expertise in detecting signs of concussion, saw Shane stumble and determined he needed to head down the sideline to evaluate Shane.

Shane came off the field after the following play and was reassessed by the head athletic trainer for the ankle injury. Since the athletic trainer had not seen the hit to the chin and was not aware that a neurological evaluation was necessary, he cleared Shane for one additional play.

The neurologist and other team physicians were not aware that Shane was being asked to return to the field, and Shane left the bench when he heard his name called and went back into the game. Under these circumstances, a player should not be allowed to re-enter the game before being cleared by the team physician. This clearly identifies the need for improvements in our sideline and communications processes.

Following the game, a comprehensive concussion evaluation was completed and Shane has been evaluated twice since the game. As of Sunday, Shane was diagnosed with a probable, mild concussion, and a high ankle sprain. That probable concussion diagnosis was not at all clear on the field on Saturday or in the examination that was conducted post-game. Unfortunately, there was inadequate communication between our physicians and medical staff and Coach Hoke was not provided the updated diagnosis before making a public statement on Monday. This is another mistake that cannot occur again.

Going forward, we have identified two changes in our procedures that we will implement immediately:

We will have an athletic medicine professional in the press box or video booth to ensure that someone will have a bird's eye view of the on-field action, have television replay available and have the ability to communicate with medical personnel on the sidelines.

We are also examining how to reinforce our sideline communication processes and how decisions will be made in order to make sure that information regarding student-athlete availability to participate is communicated effectively amongst the medical team and to our coaches.

We have learned from this experience, and will continue to improve ways to keep our student-athletes' health and safety our number one priority.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Two down, so who will be next as Kansas joins SMU with interim coach in football for 2014

Lawrence, Kan. - Charlie Weis has been relieved of his duties as Head Football Coach at the University of Kansas, KU Athletics Director Sheahon Zenger announced Sunday.  Weis was in the third year of a five-year contract.

Zenger named KU defensive coordinator Clint Bowen interim head coach.

"I normally do not favor changing coaches mid-season," Zenger said.  "But I believe we have talented coaches and players in this program, and I think this decision gives our players the best chance to begin making progress right away.

"I appreciate what Coach Weis did with several facets of our football program," Zenger continued.  "But we have not made the on-the-field progress we believe we should.  I believe new leadership gives our coaches and players the best chance to make a fresh start."

Zenger informed Weis of his decision Sunday morning, and then spoke to the rest of the coaching staff.  "I am grateful for the KU fans, alumni and donors who continue to support our coaches and players."

"As we continue to elevate the national stature of the University of Kansas, our pursuit of excellence extends beyond our research and instructional missions," said KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. "KU alumni, students, fans and supporters expect that Kansas Football will match the other areas in which we excel as a university.  After consulting with Dr. Zenger, I am in agreement that it is time for new leadership of our football program." - KUAthletics.com

*** *** ***

Prior to Charlie Weis's dismissal this weekend, SMU head coach June James walked out of his Dallas office, after an 0-2 start to the 2014 season. The Mustangs couldn't find enough offense, in back to back road losses at Baylor and North Texas.

Jones was in his seven season at SMU and 16th overall at a FBS program. He had lead SMU to four striaght bowls, after 1-11 his first season, but fell to 5-7, 4-4 in the first season in the American Athletic Conference.

*** *** ***

Charlie Weis was a rather peculiar hire by Kansas. His success at Notre Dame was 35-27, but his roots were far more linked to his work as a coordinator in the NFL.

With two gone as September ends, what will October bring in 2014 on the coaching chopping block?

Last year, we saw 20 coaches retire, get fired, resign or move onto other venues.

Ranking the B1G as September Ends after Week 5 of College Football Season

It has been an interesting start to the 2014 season in College Football. The BCS era is gone. The Big 5 Conferences have taken some hits, as North Dakota State wins fifth straight over a FBS program.

There next opportunity apparently will come in 2016 vs. a B1G program in Week 3. But, they are seeking their fourth straight FCS title, as they hit the MVfC schedule this October.

The excitement of the first College Football Playoff this season has talking heads and media types putting the B1G down, since only one team remains undefeated and they are not named Michigan, Ohio State or Penn State.

Michigan State lost in Week 2 at Oregon, who clearly hold the best win of the early 2014 season, when you consider wins by Florida State, Oklahoma or Alabama in the CFP discussion in September.

The B1G season and schedule will begin for every team, as October games unfold this Saturday.
How the B1G conference power ratings take shape as we end September and Week 5 of the 2014 season?

1. vs. 2.
This Saturday night in East Lansing in prime-time, an early B1G East vs. BIG West game with bragging rights on the line, as the defending B1G champ hosts the lone remaining B1G undefeated team.

Michigan State vs. Nebraska ... for bragging rights and the early lead as front runner of the conference for 2014.

The Spartans are 3-1, with eight B1G regular-season conference games ahead, with a ten game win streak on the line, in East Lansing. Mark Dantonio has the Spartans, in good position, heading into his eighth season at the helm.

They earned #1 in 2013, despite a lackluster 2012, with a 3-5 B1G record. The Spartans have won 3 straight bowl games, with wins over Georgia, TCU and Stanford, last year's Rose Bowl. The ugly 49-7 bowl loss to Alabama is history from the 2010 season.

The challenger for #1 in the B1G power order is Nebraska at 5-0, 1-0 in the new B1G West. Is Nebraska the #2 program in the B1G right now? Despite the undefeated start, they have been written off by ESPN talking heads for a date in the College Football Playoff. Is it B1G East bias for the names, like Michigan, OSU and PSU?

The Cornhuskers in the first six seasons under coach Bo Pelini had one constant. Four losses each season, despite the nine or ten win seasons by each of Pelini's Nebraska teams. This year the seven year itch is off to a perfect 5-0 start with a B1G road opener ahead in East Lansing on Saturday.

3. Ohio State is 3-1 as they head to B1G conference play on the first Saturday of October. The Buckeyes lost in Week 2 in Columbus. A first in three seasons under Urban Meyer. Just how bad was the loss to Virginia Tech?

The Hokies are 3-2, losing back to back games after win in Columbus. The losses were to East Carolina and Georgia Tech, who are a combined 7-1, as South Carolina edged ECU.

The Buckeyes are .500 in the last six games, including two neutral game sites, with losses to MSU in 2013 B1G title game and to Clemson in last year's Orange Bowl. So, the Buckeyes open the B1G with first true away game of season. Win over Navy was in Baltimore.

The Buckeyes head to Maryland (4-1, 1-0 in B1G East) for the B1G opener. The Buckeyes have not had a lost under Meyer, in nine games true road games at Ohio State's helm.

Last Ohio State loss was in 2011, under coach Luke Fickel, at Michigan 40-34. How Michigan has fallen, since the first Brady Hoke season in 2011?

4. Wisconsin is 3-1 to start 2014 in the out of conference. They started well in the first half of the season opener in Houston against LSU. But, by the end of the game, the score was in favor of the Tigers and the Badgers were victims of their third staight loss, including Capital One bowl loss to South Carolina.

The Badgers head to Northwestern (2-2, 1-0 B1G West) for the B1G road opener, with a .500 record in their last six games, like Ohio State.

5. Maryland is 1-0 B1G West replaced Penn State with the early lead in the East division, after a sound road win at Indiana to close out the month of September and open their B1G era, as one of the newest members of the conference.

Huge opportunity to make a statement in the Terrapins B1G home opener, with Ohio State coming to town. However, Penn State found a 1-0 B1G home opener not fun. For Maryland's sake, it will not be Homecoming Saturday, as they welcome their first B1G home game.

The Terrapins have never played Ohio State before. They did win at VA Tech in OT last year, in coach Randy Edsall's third season at College Park.

6. vs. 7.
Iowa vs. Minnesota was the B1G opener the past two seasons, but the game was moved to November in 2014. Iowa has won two straight in the series.

The Hawkeyes (4-1, 1-0 B1G West) have played 12 of 16 B1G openers on the road under coach Kirk Ferentz. Iowa opened at Purdue this year, after win last year over Minnesota. The Hawkeyes have won three straight B1G road openers. With Saturday's win to open B1G in 2014, Hawkeyes have won seven of the last nine over Purdue.

The Golden Gophers (4-1, 1-0 B1G West) win the Little Brown Jug to open B1G season on the road at Michigan. Only the third win, since 1978 over Wolverines. It is a long conference season, but Wisconsin has won ten straight over Minnesota. Coach Jerry Kill, in his fourth season, has more unfinished business during this young season, including a B1G season’s end at Wisconsin.

8. Northwestern opens B1G West at 1-0, as both Minnesota and Wildcats win crossover games to give West 2-0 start over the Media suggested stronger B1G East division. 

The Wildcats host huge game on Saturday, with Wisconsin coming to town. Pat Fitzgerald has never won a division or B1G, as he enters his ninth season. Tall order in 2014, but good start at Happy Valley for Wildcats, especially after 1-7 B1G record lasy season. Two game B1G win streak heading back home to Evanston. Last B1G home win was 2012.

Wisconsin at Northwestern
The home team has won seven straight in this series of late. Wisconsin is 1-8 in B1G road openers dating back to Barry Alvarez's final season. One win was 2009 at Minnesota.

Michigan and Penn State are indeed overrated, suggesting that the difference between the East and West isn't as B1G,  as media suggested headed into the new format for 2014?

9. Penn State (4-1, 1-1 B1G East) has worse lost, since 2001, as Northwestern ruins the Nittany Lions Homecoming to close out September of 2014. The Nittany Lions beat Rutgers to open B1G play on the road in Week 3, under first year coach James Franklin. But, the home opener was not close vs. Northwestern.

10. Michigan (2-3, 0-1 B1G East) has lost more games this September,  then any other September in the school's history of fielding a college football team. Brady Hoke was 11-2, then 8-5, then 7-6 and now is 2-3 heading into October of his fourth season. Talk about a Michigan Man taking down the program. Rich Rodriguez was let go, for not being Michigan enough, after moving the record upwards from 3-9 to 5-7 to 7-6. What have we learned  here outside Ann Arbor? Lloyd Carr was encouraged out the door, after 9-3, 7-5, 11-2 and 9-4.

Michigan at Rutgers on Saturday for first ever meeting
Michigan is 8-17 in B1G road games, in last 25 games. Hoke is 0-1 as a head coach taking a team to Rutgers. He was Ball State's coach in 2007, when Rutgers won 52-30. Ironically, Michigan lost to App State to open 2007 season.

11. Rutgers (4-1, 0-1 B1G East) hosts Michigan, after nice road win at Navy and a win back home over Tulane. The Scarlet Knights opened the season in Seattle, with a nice win over Washington State. Coach Kyle Flood lost running back Paul James for season though at Navy, with ACL injury. Flood is in his third season at the helm in New Brunswick.

12. Indiana (2-2, 0-1 B1G East) has won a game, then lost a game to open the 2014 season. The win at Missouri was impressive, but the follow-up at home in the B1G opener vs. Maryland wasn't close. The Hoosiers close out their non-conference slate hosting North Texas, coached by Dan McCarney. Coach Kevin White has work ahead in his fourth season at IU.

Battle for the Cellar is up next in B1G West on Saturday

13. Illinois (3-2, 0-1 B1G West) are 1-16 under third year coach Tim Beckman, as the battle of the Leaders division moves to the B1G West in 2014 this week with Illinois hosting Purdue on Saturday. The lone win last year was a 20-16 road win over Purdue.

14. Purdue (2-3, 0-1 B1G West) has lost nine staight B1G games under second year coach Darrell Hazell. The Boilermakers were 1-11 last season, so they are improving, especially on defense, but quarterback play has a long ways to go for the Boilermakers.

Iowa, Minnesota and Penn State are idle to open the first Saturday in October. Penn State at Michigan will have two weeks of the Nittany Lions focus, with a lot on the line. Iowa hosts Homecoming in two weeks, when Indiana comes to Kinnick for the B1G home opener,  while Golden Gophers await Northwestern's visit.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Iowa wins 24-10 over Purdue to open B1G with another road win

West Lafayette, IN - - The Iowa Hawkeyes (4-1, 1-0 B1G West) survive a pick 6 and Purdue (2-3, 0-1 B1G West) field goal to roar back with 24 unanswered points for a win in Big Ten road opener.

Iowa defense held Purdue to 157 total yards to give the offense the opportunity to overcome a 10 point deficit. The Hawkeyes pulled even before the half at 10-10, dispite miscues and drops on offense.

Iowa picked up their third straight road win at Purdue, as well as third straight win in Big Ten road openers, with the 24-10 win at Purdue.

Iowa won the explosive plays and turnovers over Purdue, and that is often a winning formula, especially for offensive coordinator Greg Davis.

The defense had four sacks and two interceptions by senior strong safety John Lowdermilk,  as the Hawkeyes win back to back road games, fueled by solid defensive play in the second half for the second week in a row. Junior defensive end Nate Meier lead Iowa with six tackles, including two sacks.

Sophomore quarterback C.J. Beathard made his first career start as a Hawkeye, since junior Jake Rudock was out due to a hip injury. Iowa was also without senior running back Damon Bullock and sophomore wideout Matt VandeBerg.

Iowa ran the ball by committee, as senior Mark Weisman, redshirt freshman Jonathan Parker, sophomore LeShun Daniels and senior Jordan Canzeri all contributed in various ways by committee.

Iowa did have an early illegal procedure penalty, poor field position, drops and a costly pick 6 by Beathard. But, Iowa pushed through the inconsistencies to get back into the ball game.

Iowa starts slow at Purdue after Pick 6 as Week 5 Saturday kicks off

Saturday, September 27th

Iowa at Purdue, 11:00 a.m., on BTN in the conference opener and new division showdown the Hawkeyes at Boilermakers on Homecoming in West Lafayette. Prediction: Iowa 34-20. Our preview on today's game.

Northwestern at Penn State, 11:00 a.m. on BTN as Wildcats hit B1G play struggling so far in 2014. It's Homecoming in Happy Valley, as Nittany Lions seek to be first B1G at 2-0.

South Florida at Wisconsin, 11:00 a.m. on ESPNU as Badgers close out out of conference play ahead of opening B1G in October.

TCU at SMU, 11:00 a.m. on CBSSN as Horned Frogs wrap up OOC play ahead of opening Big 12 play with Oklahoma in October.

Tennessee at Georgia, 11:00 a.m. on ESPN as SEC East showdown on final weekend of September.

Tulane at Rutgers, 11:00 a.m.ESPN News as Scarlet Knights wrap up OOC play before trying to get first B1G win in the early conference season at home with Michigan coming to town in October.

UTEP at Kansas State, 11:00 a.m. on FSN Affiliates as Wildcats look to rebound, after loss to Auburn in Week 4. The Wildcats are in 1-0 in conference play though and final OOC tune-up.

Vanderbilt at Kentucky, 11:00 a.m. on SECN as Wildcats and coach Mark Stoops seeks first SEC win as a head coach.

Wyoming at Michigan State, 11:00 a.m. on ESPN2 as Spartans finish non-conference preparations ahead of prime-time B1G opener next week at home with Nebraska.

Colorado State at Boston College, 11:30 a.m. on FSN Affiliates / RSN as both teams play out of conference ahead of conference filled October and November.

Western Michigan at Virginia Tech, 11:30 a.m. on ACC Network as Hokies enjoy final tune-up before ACC Coastal campaign.

Maryland at Indiana, 12:30 p.m. on BTN as Terrapins open new B1G era as they travel to Bloomington for the conference opener for each team.

Arkansas vs. Texas A&M in Arlington, 2:30 p.m. on CBS as Bret Bielema seeks first SEC win in his second season in the SEC.

Florida International at UAB, 2:30 p.m. on NESN+ / CSCA / ASN (affiliates) as these two square off in the C-USA East.

Florida State at North Carolina State, 2:30 p.m. on ABC / ESPN2 alternates as Seminoles seek to remain undefeated as ACC play heats up.

Minnesota at Michigan, 2:30 p.m. on ABC / ESPN2 as the Battle for the Little Brown Jug kicks off conference play for a struggling Wolverines team under coach Brady Hoke. Minnesota is 2-30 vs. Michigan, since 1978, so neither team looks good heading into to battle ...

Northern Colorado at Montana, 2:30 p.m. on RSNW / DTV: 101 / RSRM -  as NCO goes from road trip to UNI to road trip to Montana ... ouch!

Wake Forest at Louisville, 2:30 p.m. on ESPNU in this ACC Atlantic showdown.

Western Kentucky at Navy, 2:30 p.m. on CBSSN as Midshipmen look to rebound after a pair of B1G losses in '14.

Colorado at California, 3:00 p.m. on PAC-12 Network (HD) as Bears seek to rebound at home after tough, late loss in the desert last Saturday.

Louisiana Tech at Auburn, 3:00 p.m. on SECN as former Hawkeyes reserve QB Cody Sokol leads LA Tech into Auburn for a stiff lip.

Temple at UConn, 3:00 p.m. on ESPN News as American conference football kicks off on Saturday.

Texas at Kansas, 3:00 p.m. on FS1 as Longhorns hit road in the Big 12, as the Charlie Strong era looks for some success.

Stanford at Washington, 3:00 p.m. on FOX in Pac 12 North.

Tennessee Tech at Northern Iowa, 4:00 p.m. on CSNCa / Panther Sports Network (cable) as Panthers seek to reach .500 after opening with back to back FBS road losses in '14.

Cincinnati at Ohio State, 5:00 p.m. on BTN as Bearcats seek to upset Buckeyes in Columbus ahead of conference play in '14.

Boise State at Air Force, 6:00 p.m. on CBSSN in MWC action.

Central Michigan at Toledo, 6:00 p.m. on espn3 / BCSN (cable) in MAC action.

Missouri at South Carolina, 6:00 p.m. on ESPN in a huge SEC East game, as Tigers fell at home vs. Indiana last Saturday. 

North Carolina at Clemson, 6:00 p.m. on ESPNU in ACC play.

Rice at Southern Miss, 6:00 p.m. on DTV: 608 / FCSA (cable) - in C-USA.

Duke at Miami-FL, 6:30 p.m. on ESPN2 as Hurricanes return to home and ACC play, after being rocked by Nebraska last Saturday.

Memphis at Ole Miss, 6:30 p.m. on FSN Affiliates / espn3 as C-USA

New Mexico State at LSU, 6:30 p.m. on SECN - a soft SEC non-conference game for Tigers to rebound from after opening loss in SEC last week.

Baylor at Iowa State, 7:00 p.m. on FOX as Bears open Big 12 play in Jack Trice in Ames. Tall order for ISU at 0-1 in Big 12 play.

Notre Dame vs. Syracuse in East Rutherford, 7:00 p.m. on ABC / espn3 as Orange look to knock off Fighting Irish, coming off loss to Maryland.

Texas State at Tulsa, 7:00 p.m. on ESPN News as C-USA heads to the American.

Washington State at Utah, 7:00 p.m. on PAC-12 Network (HD) as Utes return home with win at Ann Arbor for an important Pac 12 match up.

Illinois at Nebraska, 8:00 p.m. on BTN as Fighting Illini hit road to Lincoln in this B1G opener in the new West division.

Nevada at San Jose State, 9:30 p.m. on CBSSN as the MWC heats up.

Oregon State at USC, 9:30 p.m. on ESPN as Trojans look to take care of business in this crossover game in Pac 12.

Akron at Pittsburgh, 12:30 p.m. on espn3 as Panthers look to rebound from 24-20 home loss to Iowa ahead of return to ACC action.

Bowling Green at UMass, 2:00 p.m. on espn3 in the MAC.

Eastern Illinois at Ohio U, 1:00 p.m. on espn3 as Bobcats enjoy one more tune-up ahead of MAC action.

Kent State at Virginia, 2:30 p.m. on espn3 as MAC seeks another win against Big 5 Conference.

Miami Ohio at Buffalo, 2:30 p.m.espn3 in the MAC.

South Alabama at Idaho, 4:00 p.m.on espn3 in Sun Belt action.

Troy at Louisiana Monroe, 6:00 p.m.on espn3 in Sun Belt action.

UNLV at San Diego State, 7:00 p.m. on espn3 in the MWC.

UTSA at Florida Atlantic, 4:00 p.m. on KMYS / TW TX) (cable)  in this C-USA showdown.

Big Ten Opener Week 5: Iowa at Purdue

West Lafayette, IN -- The Iowa Hawkeyes (3-1) traveled to West Lafayette on Friday for today's Big Ten conference opener against the Purdue Boilermakers (2-2). While the Boilermakers enjoy Homecoming this weekend, the Chicago Center Fire on Friday derailed Iowa's charter flight to West Lafayette, so the Hawkeyes made a six and half hour bus trip, rather than an approximate hour plan trip.

How will the travel change impact the Hawkeyes last minute preparations for Purdue, we shall quickly determine, as the Hawkeyes - Boilermakers kickoff at 11 a.m. on the Big Ten Network from Ross-Ade Stadium on the campus of Purdue University.

The Hawkeyes need the offense to click in today's Big Ten opener.

Whether under center or on the headset, those inside the University of Iowa football program expect two quarterbacks to make an impact when the Hawkeyes visit Purdue today.

Junior Jake Rudock has started 17 consecutive games since making his Hawkeye debut in the 2013 season opener, but he was injured at Pittsburgh last week and did return after halftime.

He was replaced by sophomore C.J. Beathard, who led Iowa to three consecutive scoring drives, including a 13-play, 52-yard march in the fourth quarter that put Iowa ahead for the first and final time. Iowa won thier third consecutive road game, with the 24-20 win at Pittsburgh, last Saturday.

Beathard's final line included 98 yards passing on 7-of-8 attempts. He engineered an offense that scored 17 second-half points, and he did it using seven receivers, Mark Weisman's legs, Marshall Koehn's foot, and Rudock's support.

"Jake was very positive and encouraging when I came off the field," said Beathard. "He would tell me what (Iowa offensive coordinator Greg) Davis was saying on the headset. He would tell me what we're thinking here, or what we're thinking there. He wants to win just as bad as I do."

Rudock doesn't just want to win, he knows how to win. He won eight games in his first season under center, increasing Iowa's victory total by four games from the previous year, and in two of those games he erased a fourth-quarter deficit.

That leadership -- whether communicated from the huddle, headset, or sideline -- had his teammates' attention last week.

"When a guy goes out, and when a true leader goes out, they help the team by staying on the sideline trying to keep spirits up and letting guys know what they can do to improve if they make a mistake," said senior right tackle Andrew Donnal. "They stay positive for the guys, and that's exactly what (Rudock) did on the sideline."

Senior wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley said the quarterback dialogue is a two-way exchange of ideas, and that both Beathard and Rudock influence the offense whether they're in the game or not.

"Both of the quarterbacks communicate," said Martin-Manley. "When Jake is in the game C.J. is talking to him, or if C.J. is in the game Jake will talk to him. They're both very into it. If one is not on the field physically, he is still there mentally."

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz says the quarterbacks have their differences -- personalities, throwing styles, leadership styles -- but he says "that's the neat thing about football."

"You've got a lot of diverse backgrounds, personalities, ages, all that stuff," said Ferentz. "But (Beathard and Rudock) share a common bond in terms of they're here to help the team be a better football team."

Ferentz added that both quarterbacks are great teammates, and no matter who takes the field today, the offense is in good hands.

"I think I'm safe in saying our players have total confidence, just like the coaches, in both quarterbacks, and that's a good thing," said Ferentz. "But they've earned it. They've worked hard and played tough."

C.J. Beathard is likely to make his first start of his young career at Purdue. He played in last year's November road trip to West Lafayette.

"We're here for one reason," said Beathard, "and that's to win games."

The real key offensively for Iowa is the running game today. Who will step forward at Purdue today in the B1G opener?

Will there be pressure on the Hawkeye running backs?

"No," junior running back Jordan Canzeri added. "It's not who's starting and who isn't. I was able to be the first to get carries and feel out the defense. It wasn't much of a new, crazy thing to me, but I'm ready to take that responsibility."

Canzeri opened the Pitt game with a 2-yard run and had attempts on four of the first five rushing plays. He finished with eight carries for 23 yards. Senior running back Mark Weisman gained 88 yards on 22 attempts with two touchdowns.

"It's about who is making plays and getting the hot hand," Canzeri said. "Mark did great during the game, that's why he got the majority of the carries. We know that going into each game that whoever has the hot hand is going to get the ball."

Canzeri's only previous start was against Oklahoma in the Insight Bowl. He led Iowa with 58 rushing yards on 22 carries and caught six passes for 28 yards and a touchdown.

As exciting as that postseason performance was, Canzeri registered his only collegiate 100-yard rushing effort Nov. 9, 2013, at Purdue. The Hawkeyes return to Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday.

"It was a great feeling having the performance I did, but it was a credit to the offensive line and (quarterback) Jake (Rudock) for the checks he made," Canzeri said. "Even though I was told I had a great game, I expected a lot more. I'm ready to do more than last year if I get that opportunity."

Last season against the Boilermakers, Canzeri carried the ball 20 times for 165 yards and a 2-yard touchdown run that gave the Hawkeyes a 7-0 lead. Iowa went on to pick up 318 yards on the ground and 191 through the air.

This season Weisman leads the team with 54 carries, 184 yards, and four touchdowns. Canzeri has 23 attempts for 89 yards; senior Damon Bullock has carried the ball 20 times and leads the backs with 15 pass receptions; sophomore LeShun Daniels, Jr., compiled 12 carries in the first two games. Iowa has used redshirt freshman Jonathan Parker on the jet sweep in the first two weeks of the season.

No one in the Iowa offensive backfield is looking for the spotlight. Weisman jokes that he will let Canzeri take outside zone running plays if they are called. Canzeri tells Weisman that third-and-1 attempts are all his.

"It's great to have the relationship we have," Canzeri said. "We're both ready, and it's good that we're all humble, no one is selfish."

Iowa has won five of its last six regular-season games away from Kinnick Stadium, including three in a row. The consecutive win streak began a year ago at Purdue.

Today, is the twelve conference season opener played on the road, in Ferentz's 16th season at Iowa. Iowa is going for their third staight B1G road opener today, after the 19-16 OT win at Michigan State in 2012 and last year's 23-7 win over Minnesota. Iowa is also going for their third staight win at Purdue, and seven in the last nine games in the overall series.

"You always want to win on the road," Canzeri said. "You want to win every game, but it's especially tough on the road because you have the harsh environment and (most of the) fans are against you."

Kickoff is scheduled for 11:01 a.m. and the game will be televised by BTN with Scott Graham, Stanley Johnson, and Evan Fitzgerald calling the action.

Whether Canzeri, Weisman or any other Hawkeye back is getting the bulk of the playing time is insignificant as long as Iowa improves to 4-1 overall.

"If it's someone else getting the ball and they're having that breakout game, then we're all happy," Canzeri said. "We want the offense to move, get the job done, and score points."

Purdue is in the second year under coach Darrell Hazell, who was 1-11 in 2013, and opened 2014 with an improved 2-2 record. Next up, the Boilermakers are seeking their first B1G win, after finishing 0-8 last season.

Hazell spent two seasons as head coach at Kent State, prior to landing the job at Purdue. But, prior to head coaching, Hazel was wide receiver coach, later assistant head coach, under Jim Tressel at Ohio State from 2004 to 2010, so success on the gridiron is in his resume.

Sophomore QB Danny Etling is expected to start at quarterback today for  the Boilermakers, dispite an ankle injury in last Saturday's 35-13 win over Southern Illinois. He started seven games as a true freshman in 2013.

Purdue ranks seventh in the country in terms of most underclassmen (Fr., R-Fr., So., R-So.) in fall training camps. 70 of the 101 players in Purdue’s camp were sophomores or younger.

Iowa played a very young Pittsburgh team last Saturday. Pitt ranked first in the country in terms of most underclassmen.

Freshmen wide receiver Gregory Phillips had Purdue’s longest reception in week one. Phillips caught one pass for 29 yards in the game’s second quarter.

Sophomore DeAngelo Yancey led the team in receiving yards with 546 as a true freshman in 2013. His total ranked 13th among freshmen in FBS.

Linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley had a career-high nine tackles against Notre Dame in week three. He already has an interception and fumble recovery this season. Bentley is starting for Purdue as a true freshman.

Other contributors are linebacker Gelen Robinson, who picked up his first career sack against Notre Dame. Linebacker Danny Ezechukwu (redshirt freshman) had a half sack also against Notre Dame.

Redshirt freshman running back Keyante Green played half the fourth quarter last week and had a game-high 71 rushing yards on 13 carries. His role could be bigger this week?

Senior Akeem Hunt will start, but senior speedster Reheem Mostert fumbled last week and will not start, which may give Green more opportunities in the B1G opener?

Freshmen Miles Norwood, D.J. Knox, Da’Wan Hunte, Trae Hart, David Yancey, John Strauser, Jason Tretter and Jordan Jurasevich have all also played already this season.

For Iowa, only three true freshmen have played in the first four games of 2014.

Placekicker Mick Ellis is kicking PATs and sharing field goal duties (short FG kicker) with junior Marshall Koehn, who kicked a career long 52 yarder at Pitt last Saturday. 

Linebacker Ben Niemann and strong safety Miles Taylor play primarily special teams, though Niemann was on the field, on the final play at Pitt. As a developmental program under Ferentz the past 16 seasons, Iowa redshirts freshmen more than not. There are exceptions and 2014 is not.

Turnovers will be a key statistic in today's Hawkeyes - Boilermakers game.

 Purdue has forced five turnovers through the first four games and has made the most of them. The Boilermakers have scored a touchdown after each of the five takeaways they have this season.

If Iowa can play a clean game, the Hawkeyes should continue success on the road. But, if Iowa allows Purdue to stay with them, then Iowa may be looking at it's fifth straight one possession game in 2014.

On offense, Purdue has a very effective tight end. Justin Sinz has been one of the Boilermakers’ most consistent pass catchers over the last couple years. The senior caught at least one ball in 16-straight games, all 12 last season, and all four this year.

Another player to watch in the Purdue passing game will be the running back. Iowa has three new starters at running back. Hunt and Mostert have the ability in the passing game, as well.

The Boilermakers have shown improvement in several areas from last season. Iowa has stuggled in all three areas of the game, until the second half at Pitt.

Purdue's junior placekicker Paul Griggs has knocked down six of seven field goals through the first four games, after going six for 12 all of last year. Iowa had problems in the first two weeks of the season, with field goal kicking.

Purdue has nearly doubled its points per game from last season. The Boilermakers are averaging 27.2 points per game through the first four games, after averaging 14.2 a year ago. Iowa's defense has been up and down, depending on which half.

The Boilermakers have scored six rushing touchdowns this season, already matching the total from a year ago. Iowa's defense gave up their first two rushing touchdowns of the season in the first half at Pitt.

Ryan Watson has recorded four sacks this season through the first four games, already surpassing last season’s leader, Bruce Gaston, who had 3.0. Iowa has a strong front four, with junior defensive end Drew Ott leading Iowa with three sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss.

Purdue’s yards-per-game output has increased from 282.9 yards per game last season to 351.0 so far this season. Iowa won 38-14 last season, so what unfolds this season in West Lafayette?

The Boilermakers have returned eight punts for 134 yards this season, compared to nine for 104 all of last year. Iowa has a new punter in junior Dillon Kidd, who is a junior college transfer. Kidd did a good job against a strong punt returner for Pitt.

Purdue is averaging 146.8 yards on the ground per game, up more than double from last season. Iowa's defensive strength is stopping the run led by senior defensive tackles Carl Davis and Louis Trica-Pasat.

The Boilermakers have 134 interception return yards this season, up from 59 from all of last year. Iowa likely has Beathard making his first start, so this will be an interesting match up. Beathard threw two interceptions last year in his 27 passes thrown.

Purdue is converting 43% of its third downs, up 12% from last season. Iowa is higher at 46.7% and the Hawkeyes defense is holding opponents to 35.7%, which favors Iowa. Purdue allows 46.8% on defense, so which team stay ahead in down and distance today?

Purdue has sacked opposing quarterbacks 11 times this season, compared to 14 times from all of last year. This is another area to watch. Iowa's offensive line did not allow a sack at Pitt, but had problems in lone loss of the season.

The Boilermakers have gotten out to faster starts this season, recording 31 first quarter points, compared to 35 all of last year. Iowa got up 14-3 in the first half against Iowa State, but down 10 points at half in comeback wins over Ball State and at Pitt.

Purdue has scored 35 points off turnovers this season, compared to 31 all of last year. Iowa threw an interception last week at Pitt. The defense forced a Pitt punt.

The game of football is one of emotion, momentum and execution. How will each team come out and establish their offense, defense and play in special teams?

Prediction: Iowa 34, Purdue 20, as Hawkeyes arrive in West Lafayette and take care of Purdue in a business-like fashion. However, it is Homecoming, and Iowa's road trip was bumped by plane to a six hour plus bus ride.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thursday Night Football, as conference play begins for many programs around the country in Week 5

Thursday Night, September 25th

  • Appalachian State at Georgia Southern, 6:30 pm on ESPNU - Sun Belt showdown!
  • Texas Tech at Oklahoma State, 6:30 pm on ESPN - Big 12 games heat up!
  • UCLA at Arizona State, 9:00 pm on FS1 - the only Top 20 showdown of Week 5!

B1G action on Satuday

Minnesota @ Michigan for the Little Brown Jug
during Saturday of Week 5 in B1G.
On Saturday, many teams will open Big Ten Conference play or return to it, as Penn State (3-1, 1-0 B1G East) hosts Northwestern (1-2) in the Nittany Lions B1G home opener in Happy Valley. Iowa (3-1) travels to Purdue (2-2) for the Boilermakers Homecoming. Minnesota (3-1) travels to Michigan (2-2) for the Battle of the Little Brown Jug. Rutgers (3-1, 0-1 B1G East) finishes non-conference play on Saturday, with Tulane on the schedule; but fellow new member, Maryland (3-1) travels to Indiana (2-1) for their first B1G conference game. Illinois (3-1) opens at Nebraska (4-0) on Saturday night. Wisconsin (2-1) plays their final out of conference game with South Florida on Saturday.
 Last year's division winners, Michigan State (2-1) hosts Wyoming, while Ohio State (2-1) hosts Cincinnati before opening conference play in Week 6.

No more Legends and Leaders

The Big Ten opened new divisions in 2014, with Maryland and Rutgers joining the Big Ten. The inaugural opener in 2014 came in Week 3, as B1G East opponents, Penn State and Rutgers squared off for a 13-10 game, that went down to the wire. The Nittany Lions enjoyed the road win and will be the first team to play two Big Ten games this week.

No Longer Protected Rivals

Iowa and Purdue were protected rivals in the old Legends and Leaders divisions, but both will be division teams, as Purdue, Illinois and Wisconsin leave the Leaders and join Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Northwestern in the new B1G West division. Former Legends, Michigan and Michigan State join Indiana, Ohio State and Penn State, along with B1G newcomers, Maryland and Rutgers, to make up the new B1G East division.

Iowa at Purdue on Saturday at 11 a.m. on BTN

Purdue and Iowa will meet for the 85th time on the gridiron on Saturday. The Boilermakers boast a 46-25-3 record in the series, highlighted by a 20 game win streak from 1961 to 1980. On the flip side, Iowa is seeking their seventh win in the last nine games in the series and third straight in West Lafayette. 
Iowa RB Jordan Canzeri
ran for 165 yards in last
year's game @ Purdue.

Iowa beat Purdue 38-14 in last year's game, also at West Lafayette. Purdue head coach Darrell Hazel was in his first season at the helm. Last year, Purdue went 1-11, as they begin 2014 at 2-2. Hazel has already doubled his win total, as well as picked up his first FBS win this season. 

The next step is picking up his first B1G win. The Iowa Hawkeyes are facing Purdue in the earliest game ever in the series. This is the first Homecoming meeting, since 1994, when the game ended in a 21-21 tie, so a Purdue win would be huge in Hazel's second season.

Iowa was previously coached by J. Hayden Fry, who coached at Iowa for twenty seasons. Ironically, the 1994 game was in his 16th season at Iowa. Iowa's current coach, Kirk Ferentz replaced Fry in 1999. He is now in his 16th season at Iowa and the Big Ten opener at Purdue is on Homecoming, just like his predecessor.

One thing is for certain. There will not be a tie in the '14

A look back at Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz weekly press conference ahead of the Big Ten opener at Purdue on Saturday.

Welcome. Just started out, as always, captains are the same four guys. Louis Trinca Pasat, Quinton Alston, Brandon Scherff and Mark Weisman will be the captains. We seem to be locked in there. Injury wise, I don't think Macon Plewa will be able to go again, so we'll keep him out one more time. And Jake Rudock will come up as day to day, so we'll see how that goes as we move along. I'm going to hold him out of interviews today, too. He's coming from class. We'll let him get treatment, and I would imagine all the questions center around one thing, so we'll spare him that detail today. Good to get the win, obviously, and now we've got to move on to Purdue. Travel on the road here for two in a row, and get ready for a team that's, from my vantage point, much improved. It's going to be a big challenge for us. They've got a team that looks a lot more comfortable now. They've got second year with the coaching staff, so I think there is a bigger comfort level there. Quarterback's a second year player now, so he's got experience. Just to be improved in every facet, and one thing of note, both kickoff and punt returners are really dangerous players. Punt returners got, I think, a really big average right now. He's 20 plus a return, and that's without having an 80 yarder in there, so that's pretty impressive. Their kick return guys are both extremely fast, as are the running backs. So both running backs are back there and they're dangerous guys and one guy is extremely fast. So we have our work cut out on all three levels, so we'll go back to work today.

QB Jake Rudock has lead Iowa to 10 wins
over the past two seasons as a starter.
Here is a photo from last year's
38-14 win at Purdue.
Q. Last year Jake Rudock had dealt with some knee stuff for three games. But this wasn't that, right?

COACH FERENTZ: Correct. I didn't say that. It's all soft tissue right now. We got that tested yesterday. It's a couple different spots, but the good news is there is nothing torn or really bad.

Q. Is there a specific date this week that he would have to be on the field to be able to play? Is it different for quarterbacks?

COACH FERENTZ: We'll play it day by day and see what it looks like. I don't expect he'll be with the trainers today. We'll move him around, see how he feels and go from there. The good news is he feels better this morning than he did yesterday, and getting the test results back was a real positive.

Q. Where do you stand, Coach, on injuries? Can a guy lose his starting spot to an injury? Do you have a set rule?

COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, there is no set rule. Some players are really hard. It's going to be tough to beat Scherff out and it was kind of that way coming in. If anybody can do it, if he wasn't one of our five best linemen, he wouldn't be out there playing. So we'll just play it by ear. The good news I said Saturday and I really mean this, we have two guys we have a lot of confidence in. Maybe I've been around that situation before. It just doesn't pop out off the top of my head. But maybe in '81, Pete Gales and Gordie Bohannon were both really capable. But, you know, we'll just play it by ear. The good news is, at least, we're not going way into the bullpen here to come up with something.

Q. If Jake can't go Sunday, Wiegers would be your number two I would assume. A guy you'd like to red shirt?

COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, that's a little different topic there now.

Q. How's his progression coming? 

COACH FERENTZ: I really don't know. He's been on the scout team most of the time. The one thing I'm pretty confident, and I said two months ago, he can take a snap from our centers now. That was a real issue in August. That's a big step. I still remember to this day I'm pretty sure it was 1977. I remember Pitt losing to Notre Dame. Literally if they could have run quarterback sneaks to finish the game, they would have won the game. They had some center exchange problems, and it was that kind of situation, about so that's not a good deal. So we'll learn more about Tyler this week, for sure today.

Q. You've gone through it with the injury thing a little bit. Part of coming back is being able to perform at the same level. Does that help you or give you some sort of peace of mind in terms of Jake's dealt with pain before and you've seen how he's had to respond on the field?

COACH FERENTZ: Absolutely. First of all, the medical staff will not clear anybody that's at risk, so we're not going to do that with any player. The second part of the equation is can they play effectively? We didn't know that about Brandon and Drew a couple weeks ago. But they were able to demonstrate that they could do it. Yeah, you don't want to put a player out there where they're not going to be able to perform and look representative of the kind of players they are. That's just not fair to anybody. The team or the players individually. The good news right now is it's really more about what we see than it is anything else at this point.

Q. Ironically, last time you went to Pittsburgh you had a situation where you were playing two guys and went on a gut feeling and went with Christensen as I recall in the second half. Is this totally different because it's an injury involved?

COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, we didn't have a choice Saturday. Jake could have gone in, but couldn't move. It wouldn't have been fair to him or anybody else. What we would have done after that, that would have been interesting. The thought entered my mind at halftime, but didn't share it with anybody else, and fortunately it never came up. We have a week now to prepare if that ends up being the case if Jake can't play.

Q. It seemed like Jake stayed engaged and stayed really with C.J. in helping him with an injury and everything else on his mind. How does he pull that out? Is that just the kind of guy he is?

COACH FERENTZ: You guys have been around him. This guy is not your average player. This is an exceptional young man going back to his organic chemistry test last year and all that stuff. Jake is just really wired the way you would want a player to be wired, any player, especially a quarterback. But it was really the same thing last week. I'll go back. Last week you had Lomax, assisting Gair trying to help him get ready. And I remember Stanzi when he went down in '09, he's up here after surgery the same night with (James) Vandenberg trying to get him ready. When you have good people on your team, that's what I think I don't want to say it's a tradition here. But we've been fortunate and we have high character guys and they're all about the team. They're not worried about their own little deals.

Q. What is C.J.'s best attribute? What is the thing that you put into that?

COACH FERENTZ: I'm not good at that game, I guess. He's a good player. I feel the same way about Jake. They're different guys totally. Their personalities are different, they look different, just about go right down the row. But that's the neat thing about football. You've got a lot of diverse backgrounds, personalities, ages, all that stuff. But it's about they both share a real common bond in terms of they're here to help the team be a better football team, and they're great teammates with each other and that is certainly something you would expect or hope for. It doesn't always work that way, especially at the quarterback position. You can have some interesting chemistry sometimes with the group and all that kind of stuff. But we've been pretty lucky and had a good run of guys that are thinking the right way.

QB C.J. Beathard came in on Saturday to lead Iowa from a
17-7 deficit at Pitt at halftime to a 24-20 win.
Last year, C.J. Beathard scord the final TD in the 38-14 win
at Purdue. The Hawkeyes open the 2014 Big Ten season
at Purdue this Saturday. Depending on Jake Rudock's health,
Beathard may get his first start as a Hawkeye QB.
Q. Were you surprised with how efficient Beathard seemed to be in that game?

COACH FERENTZ: Yes and no. If you guys had seen Thursday practice the answer would be yes, I was surprised. I was underwhelmed with what I saw Thursday. But Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty good. That's kind of like our whole team, the consistency factor. But C.J.'s a really good quarterback, and I don't think I would be surprised by anything he did or Jake. I think both of them are capable of playing really well. I thought Jake played a good first half. I've read a couple things coming home that night. I have a little technology, that I phone and stuff so I get to read scores. But if we catch that one ball and he got a turnover credited to his count instead of a big completion, his numbers look pretty good too. So again, I think we have two pretty good players.

Q. C.J. has a big arm and guys with big arms like to use it when they can. What's his progress been like?

COACH FERENTZ: I think good. Rudock threw it well too. It was a pretty deep ball. I think both the guys can throw. Their styles are different. They both can make the throws they need to make. Their leadership styles are different too, but they're both effective. Again, I feel pretty good. I'm no quarterback expert. I just know when I feel good about guys and when I don't. I feel really good about both of these players.

Q. How has C.J.'s life changed? If he's installed as a starter for the week today, how much more into it is he?

COACH FERENTZ: I hope not at all. Although I read a quote of one of our other back up players how he amped it up last week, which will be a message to the team today. It's a good idea to amp it up all the time because you just never know. Coincidentally the Sam Brownlee story was featured in the press there is a publication they circulate in the press box, and his is a great story. I know when he sat in this room in August that year, he had no idea what was going to happen. How could he? Next thing you know he's in there playing against Ohio State and making A.J. Hawk miss on his best run, career run. So that's just a good reminder that you never know what's going to happen. You like to think that everybody in the two deep is preparing. Guys are going to be traveling or preparing the way a starter is, you know? That's ideal thinking. It doesn't always work that way, but a good reminder why it's important.

Q. I don't know if deserved is the right word, but do you think C.J. has earned more playing time? 

\COACH FERENTZ: I feel good about both guys. Most of those axioms are true and everybody loves the number two guy, and I do too. I'm glad he's on our team. I look at them both as starters just like I look at Mike Hardy as a starter. We can only start three ends on defense and right now it's Meier and Drew, but I consider Mike Hardy to be a starter. He really plays good football for us when he's in there, and that's rare when you have guys that can do that, but that is another position where at least we have three guys that can go in there and play at a really confident level.

Q. What was Beathard showing you Thursday that was not up to your standards?

COACH FERENTZ: He just wasn't sharp. He wasn't sharp, and that's not typical for him. So it's a little more prominent when a quarterback is like that because everybody notices what quarterbacks do. Practice is the same way. He just wasn't as sharp with his on target accuracy. That's not to suggest Jake's perfect every day either. We all have our ups and downs.

Q. Can you describe maybe the amount of man hours and work that goes into deciding who starts and why?

COACH FERENTZ: A year ago is really when the decision got made. We had to make one. At that point it's like every player on our team. Everybody's got a lot going. You put the little things in the plus column, you put them in the minus column and you just judge everything, but we evaluate everything. Not only practice, but everything that goes into it. At that position you want guys that are really dependable and you can trust because they've got a lot of responsibility. But the good news is we found out about Jake last year. I think we found out early that he's a guy that can play at a really high level and we can win with, and due to the injury to Jake, we found the same thing out about C.J. So, again, it's a really unusual situation, but we felt pretty good about both guys coming out of the year last year. The good news is now that we have them both healthy, and we have a really good situation right now. We don't. As of today, we're not in the best of situations, but hopefully it will get better as the week goes on.

Q. Is Koehn going to be instructed to kick it out of the endzone to avoid a pretty good return?

COACH FERENTZ: If we can kick it out, we'll do that. The only downside is it's going to be a little windy over there. I don't predict much, but I'll predict that because that's a factor. Marshall's done a wonderful job. That's a stat that goes unnoticed by a lot of folks, but I really appreciate it. All of us do. It's nice to know you don't have that threat. But my guess is at some point this week we're going to have to cover and make sure our coverage team hasn't gotten lulled to sleep because Marshall's done a great job.

Q. You mentioned leadership a moment ago. On the sidelines, did you sense any difference in the way the rest of the offensive players on the field interacted with or reacted to Jake versus C.J. when C.J. wasn't in?

COACH FERENTZ: I'm sure you've already asked our guys and will do so again today. But I think our players, they're like coaches, there is a lot of fuel involved in anything you do in athletics and I think confidence gets earned through performance and through what you do. Our players know a lot more about what guys do than outsiders would. I don't want to speak for other people, but I think I'm safe in saying our players have total confidence just like the coaches in both quarterbacks, and that's a good thing. But they've earned it. They've worked hard and they've played tough. Beathard threw that one Saturday where he was going to get a mouthful, and that was a huge throw in the game. To me, that was his best play. When a quarterback takes one takes a shot and gets right up, I can promise you the linemen love that. Everybody else responds to that. The defensive guys love it. Typically on good teams the defensive guys respect the good quarterbacks as much as offensive guys do, but that's something you earn. You earn it through practice, and also on the game field.

Q. Has Kenny found a home at fullback?

COACH FERENTZ: Seems to have, and that's a good story too, because we came into this season another position we don't have many of them very often, but we had a real good feel about what we had there with Adam and Macon and now we're down two in that count. John's really not perfect, but he's really adapted to it pretty quickly and really bailed us out and given us an ability to keep a personnel group out there that there are a couple personnel groups we think are important. He's done a really good job, and doing a good job on special teams too.

Q. How did you end up picking him? I know he said he didn't even play it in high school at all?

COACH FERENTZ: Trial and error, I guess, and discussion. Every now and then we get lucky and get one right, and we got that one right.

Q. Coach, you seemed to substitute a lot especially in the second half. Was that by design to stay fresh? How will that pay off in the future?

Iowa FS Anthony Gair made his first start last Saturday @ Pitt.
But, here he is making a tackle at Purdue last season.

COACH FERENTZ: Both, part of it was by design, especially up front. The guys in the box, that is the biggest group that we've played this year in quite some time, and they're really a physical, well coached group. That's a really good offensive football team, so that was part of the plan. In the back end it's been more injuries or ejections, so it was kind of a revolving door. Maurice Fleming got injured in the game, and they got back in there, so it's a real credit to him. Mabin wasn't perfect, but he played. We've had a lot of guys doing that the last couple weeks, and that's a positive sign too. Guys getting up, going out there and getting the job done. So it's really positive. Anthony Gair, I think responded well. Two weeks ago he did. Wasn't perfect, but he responded well. I think he played better Saturday, and hopefully he'll learn something about himself maybe that he's a little better than he thought he was. One of those deals. Hopefully we'll grow from there.

Q. The linebackers, seemed like you're rotating?

COACH FERENTZ: Part of that is injury related too. We've had guys get nicked up, but again, good to get guys on the field. If they come out with a good, positive experience, that's a plus.

Q. Canzeri had a good outing against Purdue last year. How has his progress been? We haven't seen it statistically? How has his progress been since that?

COACH FERENTZ: He's been good really until camp. He's had a lot of things that have slowed him down in practice, and I don't think we've seen him a hundred percent yet the way he can play. Hopefully we're getting closer. He had a little injury two weeks ago in that kick return where he came down funny. It's just kind of been a series of things. Hopefully we get him right here and get him going in the near future.

Q. When you guys switched quarterbacks in 2008 what did you need to see? Going back to the question about the amount of thinking that you guys do to pick a quarterback, does that make it hard to reconsider the position?

COACH FERENTZ: Yeah. You know, I can't remember three weeks ago let alone how many years is that? I'm not good in math. But that was a more drawn out I think that would shift back to a year ago where we really didn't know. We were just kind of, if Jake (Rudock) had sputtered, it probably would have maybe played out the way that one did, but Jake really didn't sputter. I thought he kind of took control of things. Now we're in a situation just by fate more than anything else where C.J.'s been able to play when Jake's been hurt, and we were able to discover some good things about C.J. without having the do we, don't we stuff. So it's all good.

Q. Is that a way of saying there are going to be some bumps in the road for C.J.? Maybe that wasn't on Saturday? 

COACH FERENTZ: This week, you mean? Well, there would be some for anybody who is in there, I think. That is just the nature of that position. I'm not saying I'm comfortable because I'm not comfortable right now, but I'm confident that C.J. is going to be well prepared and he'll play well. I was confident last week he would when he went in. He had a bad practice and that happens. So it happens to a lot of guys and that's part of the growing process. Hopefully as we go along this season we'll get better on a consistent basis. But all that being said, last week I was confident Jake would play, and if C.J. had it going, no reason to think he wasn't going to play well because we've seen enough of those guys in practice and in competition.

Q. Have you ever had a time here at Iowa where you and the offensive coordinator haven't agreed on who should be the starting quarterback?

COACH FERENTZ: I can't remember one, no. I don't think we've had that many tough calls, have we? '08, we were trying to work through that, and you guys probably remember that stuff better than I do. Back in the first couple of years we were round and round and round. That was like the loser got to be the quarterback because three step and get the ball out. That's all I remember the first year. Ladell Betts was the toughest guy in the history of the program. I think he averaged over four yards a carry that first year. That was an accomplishment. We were young.

Q. Four pretty good tests out of the gate here in nonconference play. How do you feel about the team's progress in the first quarter of the season?

COACH FERENTZ: We kind of looked at this as a five week block. It's a weird schedule. We've got 5 2 5, so our focus has been on the first five. Running that race as well as we can. We've had some highs, we've had some lows. Probably collectively the second half minus the first carry they had, that is kind of more what we're looking for. But we haven't done it consistently the way we want. We've got a lot of growth here to still make, and that is exciting because we can get a lot better. The other things I'm enthused about or optimistic about is we have really a good group of players. They work extremely hard, they're very conscientious and they have high character. So those are all positive things, but we can play a lot better, and that's where we've got to get to.

Q. Last year's game, the final score could be misleading because I think it was tied in the second quarter and you guys kind of struggled. Why did you struggle last year early against Purdue?

COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, we scored about 2:45 in the second quarter to go up 14 7. I think I peeked at that last night.

Q. Were you doing something?

COACH FERENTZ: I don't want to sound like I'm giving lectures, but it's a lot more competitive than I think people give it credit for sometimes. I think we probably respect our opponents a lot more than people outside the building do sometimes. It's just conference play. If you study football, conference play is really unpredictable. Football is really unpredictable at any level, I think. Everybody wants to know the answers on Monday of what's going to happen Saturday or Sunday, but it doesn't work that way. You have to play the games. That is just the nature of sports. I don't know about the other sports because I really don't follow it that close. But I know a little bit about football. You think you've got the answers, and it's a pretty humbling game, just like life's humbling. They've got a lot of good players, they've got good coaches and they want to win. It's probably going to be that way the next eight opportunities or nine opportunities, whatever we've got here. We're playing eight right now, right? Eight conference games, and that's nine coming up. My guess is all eight of these are going to be dog fights, and if we don't show up with some fight, we'll be the dogs. That's just how it goes.

Last year, WR Kevonte Martin-Manley was on the end of
two passing touchdowns at Purdue.
Q. What does Purdue on defense and what is working well for them?

COACH FERENTZ: A lot. I said this about their whole team, but I think defensively they did a lot last year. It looks to me like they've kind of streamlined. Part of that and going through that, when you go into a new situation you learn about your players, so you're trying to figure out what you can do and can't do and those types of things. But I think they've settled in really well. They've got good size up front, and they're aggressive up front. The secondary does a good job. Their scheme is not like totally out of the ordinary or anything like that. They'll throw some wrinkles at you that, if you're not alert, you'll be in some trouble and they've got a blitz package, which we haven't gotten that far to plan yet. Peeked at it Sunday and yesterday a little bit, and it's pretty intricate and complex, so it's going to be a couple discussions there.

Q. Is it a lot like Ohio State?

COACH FERENTZ: No, I wouldn't say that, no. I'm going off memory. It's been a while too, but I mean, maybe in some general, the front. I'm going back to 2010 right now. That is the one that pops into my mind. The front itself is similar, but the blitz package, I would say is different. It's a little bit. Again, we haven't put it up on the board and talked about it. We'll do that tomorrow morning. But looking at it Sunday I was like, okay, this is going to be a little cause for indigestion. We'll go from there.

Q. Coach, this week there's been a picture floating around on social media of a picture of a guy with a tattoo of your face on his leg.

COACH FERENTZ: Okay. I've heard about it. I haven't seen it.

Q. What do you think about how crazy fans can be?

COACH FERENTZ: I think he probably needs a hobby or two would be my guess. I don't know. I will say this: Our fans have been outstanding. We have a great group over in Pittsburgh. We've played at Kinnick three times and they've been stellar. There are a lot of people really enthused about our football team and we really appreciate that. But I'm not sure I'd recommend going to that extreme. But I did hear about that one, actually.

Q. Going back to Purdue, you mentioned this is year to year. They were undergoing a major transition in how they do things, especially on offense. What kind of strides have you seen from them, and what kind of strides have you seen from Danny Etling in adjusting to this new type of scheme?

COACH FERENTZ: Two things that jump out. I read that this morning about the points off turnovers. They're doing a really good job. That's good team football if you get a turnover and convert it into points. That's just a good sign, good indicator. Anytime they made the decision last year, it was a hard call, not a clear cut one, but they went to Danny Etling as a true freshman, and we knew him very well. He was a really good player in high school. Really good player. So they made the decision, and now they're so much further down the road than when we played them. I can't remember how many games they had started when we played them, but it's just a world of difference, especially when a first-year player has to start. That's not easy. So I don't work there, but I'm just imagining like last spring, this summer for their offensive staff to play with a guy who really understands the language and understands what they're trying to get accomplished, that is a good thing. Then they've got some guys that have a big offensive line. They have excellent tight ends. They've got two backs that are very, very quick, and then they ran their younger guy the other day, and he's an excellent running back. So they've got a good group of receivers. They've been very, very productive and doing a good job. They've got all the makings. It's just a matter now of putting things together and pushing forward. But I think they're making strides right now, and certainly Saturday they looked really good.

Q. You moved into Top 10 career wins in a school in Big Ten history. Do you have any thoughts about that?

COACH FERENTZ: No, I'll give you a quick one. I think I did something of note up in East Lansing in 2012. We didn't win a game the next six times out. So we'll think about that stuff later on. I'm not sure what happened, but we'll think about that in the other season.

Q. Do you think the casual fan understands at all what goes into picking a starter?

COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, probably not. But why would they? We'll play whoever is ready to go. It's not that big a deal to us. We'll rally whoever is out there. We're not going to put Jake out there if he's not able to play the way he has to. C.J. will be ready to go if that's the way it turns out.

Q. Do you think the talent that you have on the right side sometimes gets overshadowed by the left?

COACH FERENTZ: Oh, I mean, Scherff's a rare guy. I won't say that about too many guys, but I'd sound like an idiot if I didn't say that because he's a really special football player, and you're lucky to get guys like that every now and then. But Andrew Donnal is a really good player too, so is Austin Blythe. Those guys are pretty experienced guys. So I mean, he's (Donnal) a really good player and tackles are hard to find. Good tackles are really hard to find, so we're just thrilled he's playing well and doing a really good job out there. We're really happy for him?

Q. Speaking of Scherff, what was the reaction like when you saw his blitz pick up?

COACH FERENTZ: I said, he's a pretty unique player. There aren't a lot of guys that do things like that. You know, it's probably more about the guy that got hit's reaction than mine. But he's a guy that loves playing. He's got good awareness, and that's what that played showed really. Good vision, good awareness, which is an important trait for everybody.

Q. For the first time since 1948 you've had four games decided by one possession. You're the only team in the country that's done that this season, and pretty sure over the last six or seven years you've been right up at the top. Why is this a one possession game kind of program?

COACH FERENTZ: That's a fair question. I don't know. It really doesn't concern me that much as long as we come out on the right side of those possessions. But, yeah, I don't know. To me it's kind of the nature of sports in some ways. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

GAME DAY IOWA; the Hawkeyes hit the road for a game in ACC Country vs. the Pittsburgh Panthers @ Heinz Field

The Hawekeyes and Panthers square off in this Big Ten-
ACC showdown on ESPNU in Week 4 of '14.

Pittsburgh, PA -- The Iowa Hawkeyes (2-1) face a huge hurdle in their first road game of the 2014 season at the Pittsburgh Panthers (3-0, 1-0 ACC Coastal division) with an 11 a.m. game on ESPNU from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. The Hawkeyes look to rebound, after a disappointing home lost in their Cy-Hawk Game with Iowa State in a 20-17 defeat at historic Kinnick Stadium.

The Pitt-Iowa game could develop into a game of strengths, with the undefeated Panthers averaging Go Panthers!344.3 yards a game rushing the football on offense, while the Hawkeyes have allowed only 65.7 yards rushing, while on defense in the early 2014 season.

"It is going to come down to who wants it more and that will determine who is going to win that battle," said Iowa senior defensive tackle Louis Trinca-Pasat. "We have an opportunity to make some plays and we accept the challenge."

Pittsburgh's rushing attack (344.3) is fourth in NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). Sophomore running back James Conner has carried the ball 81 times for 544 yards (6.7 yards per attempt) with eight touchdowns. Only Aaron Jones on UTEP has more yards on the ground this season.

"It will be a big test for us and we look forward to it up front," said Iowa senior defensive tackle Carl Davis. "It is going to be a new stage compared to the teams we have been playing, but we look forward to the challenge and how we match up."

Iowa is sixth (65.7) in NCAA FBS against the rush and has 19 tackles for loss. Trinca-Pasat leads the way with four tackles for loss, followed by junior defensive end Drew Ott (3.5) and senior linebacker Quinton Alston (three).

"It is going to come down to who wants it more and that will determine who is going to win that battle. We have an opportunity to make some plays and we accept the challenge."
Louis Trinca-Pasat
Iowa defensive tackle

"I love physical football so this is a great test for us," Alston said. "It is a test that we need especially since we are about to go into Big Ten play. I feel good; it's going to be a race to the ball and I want to be the first to the ball and try to get some TFLs (tackles for loss) out of it."

Iowa and Pitt have played twice since 2008, with each team winning a tight game on its home field. In 2008, the Panthers held on for a 21-20 victory despite 147 rushing yards from Hawkeye Shonn Greene. In 2011, Iowa overcame a 24-3 third-quarter deficit by scoring the final three touchdowns -- two to wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley -- to post a 31-27 win.

"It was a great atmosphere and it was a big win for that team at that point," Martin-Manley said of the 2011 matchup. "Being a young guy, you're confident, but at the same time when you don't see the plays happen you kind of get down. When you do see those plays, you're like `alright I can do it' because you have done it before."

The Panthers have a new head coach, since the two games earlier in the four game series Iowa-Pitt are playing. Former Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst is in his third season at the helm at Pitt.

Chryst said the following of Iowa's head coach ahead of today's game: “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Kirk Ferentz, and it’s going to be a well-coached team. He believes in physical offense, physical defense. It’s always going to be a challenge. I’m excited for our guys to play. It’s going to be a good atmosphere. It’ll be a good physical game, and we’ve got to rise up and meet that challenge. It’s a great opportunity for us. The amount of success that he’s had for a long time—there’s a lot of programs across the country trying to do that.”

Iowa head coach Ferentz said statistics after three weeks -- like rankings -- tell something, but not everything. He was referring to the Panthers running for 1,033 yards and passing for 304. They can do both well, Ferentz warns.

"Pitt isn't throwing the ball much right now because they haven't had to." Ferentz said. "They can throw the ball." Sophomore Tyler Boyd is the #1 wide receiver and top return specialist in the Panthers attack.

The Hawkeyes have not allowed a 100-yard rusher all season. Ball State ran the ball 39 times for a total of 90 yards -- 81 coming from running back Jahwan Edwards. Northern Iowa rushed 25 times for 25 yards and Iowa State attempted 26 runs for 82 yards.

"It's going to be a real challenge (slowing Conner)," Ferentz said. "He's strong and fast. He has the ability to see and pick holes. They're big and athletic up front. It's a tough group to prepare for."

"The statistics reflect what they are," said Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz on Tuesday at his weekly news conference inside the Hayden Fry Football Complex. "They're a very good football team, and we have a big challenge ahead of us."

Pitt's James Conner leads the nation
 in rushing TDs (eight) and is second
in rush yards (544).

The Panthers' offense has been potent early, ranking 15th nationally at 44.7 points per game in victories over Delaware, at Boston College, and at Florida International. Pittsburgh ranks fourth nationally at running the football, with 181.3 coming from Conner, while sophomore quarterback Chad Voytik is second in rushing for the Panthers.

"Pitt is not throwing for much right now because they haven't had to," said Ferentz. "They've demonstrated they can run it, and they've run it against everybody. When you look at the film, they're impressive up front and the running back is a good player."

Ferentz sees a lot of Wisconsin in the Panthers and for good reason. Chryst was a member of Bret Bielema's staff in Madison in 2002 and served as the Badgers' offensive coordinator from 2005-11.

Ferentz said the Iowa offense has shown glimpses this season with long and productive drives, but the trouble has been consistency. He is steadfast in the identity he seeks offensively.

"One thing I am firm on, we have to have the ability to be balanced, and we would hopefully play in a physical nature," he said. "We're not going to be a finesse offensive football team. We have to have the ability to run or pass."

Iowa's rushing attack should be back at full strength at Pittsburgh after gaining 129 yards on 44 attempts against Iowa State. Ferentz expects junior Jordan Canzeri to play against Pittsburgh after getting dinged up on a kick return against the Cyclones. Canzeri has been dinged in fall camp and during the last couple of games for Iowa.

Iowa is also trying to find the right mix and rhythm to get sophomore LeShun Daniels, Jr., back in the mix. Daniels, Jr., didn't have an attempt against Iowa State on Sept. 13. He scored the first touchdown of the season for Iowa during the early part of the UNI game.

"We're not ruling anything out (with LeShun)," said Ferentz. "We haven't found the right rhythm or tempo. We'll keep working at it." Iowa senior running backs Mark Wesiman and Damon Bullock saw most game action vs. Iowa State. Freshman Jonathan Parker is another running back, who has seen game action during the 2014 season.

Ferentz confirmed sophomore Anthony Gair will make his first start at free safety at Pittsburgh, filling in for junior Jordan Lomax, who will miss the first half after being ejected for targeting against Iowa State -- a rule Ferentz says is hard to officiate.

"There are going to be a lot of mixed opinions," said Ferentz. "My feeling when it all started was when everybody in the stadium says, `Whoa,' that's when a guy should get tossed out. I thought Jordan was trying to avoid targeting. That was my view of it, but it's easier said than done."
Ferentz is stressing the importance of moving on from a last-second loss to Iowa State.

"We all have to move on," he said. "Whether we win or lose, that's how it goes. We can worry about it out-of-season. We need to worry about what we're doing and matching up against our opponent.
"People that can't do that aren't going to do very well over the long haul. That's how it is, and it's easier said than done."

ESPNU will have Adam Amin and John Congemi, a former Pitt QB from 1982-86, in the booth, with Niki Noto on the sidelines. Kickoff is scheduled for 11:01 a.m. Central Time.

The Hawkeyes have never won at Pitt over years. Pitt leads the series 3-2, with the average score Pitt 22-20, so another tight, close ball game could be on store in 2014?

This is the third game ever between the teams at Pitt. It is hard to rally and call it "three's a charm" for Iowa, with the last game at Heinz Field in 2008.

The Panthers are eyeing a 4-0 start for the first time since the 2000 season. The Panthers were 7-6, 3-5 for sixth in the ACC Coastal division in '13.

Iowa coach Ferentz is a graduate of nearby Upper St. Clair High School and served as a graduate assistant on Jackie Sherrill's 1980 Pitt coaching staff. He left Pitt for Iowa, becoming former Iowa head coach J. Hayden Fry's offensive line coach in 1981. The Hawkeyes ended a 19 season non-winning streak in Ferentz's first year, winning the Big Ten and representing the Big Ten in Fry's first Rose Bowl trip.

Iowa needs the offensive line to elevate their game in 2014 at Pitt, if Iowa is going to pull off a road win. The Hawkeyes front 7 and secondary will be tested, as well by Pitt.

“You’ve got good players and a good scheme, that’s always a key part of it. You’ve got to work to get yards on them. It’s a sound defense, and they’ve got good players. Whatever you get, you’ll earn. It’s fun to play them that way because nothing will be given,” said Pitt coach Chryst in talking about the Iowa defense.

Keys to the Game:

  • Turnovers and miscues
  • Establishing control of the line of scrimmage
  • Explosive plays
  • Special teams
While there isn't a lot of series history between Iowa and Pitt, both teams often see each other on the recruiting trail. Pitt true frosh WR Adonis Jennings' recruitment came down to Iowa and Pitt, for example.

Pitt is favored to win today's game. 

Iowa needs a spark, whether it is via turnover, the offense, defense and/or special teams delivering an explosive play. Iowa needs to establish something for more than two drives. It has been a struggle for Iowa week to week in '14. A coming out party at Pitt is a tall order. 

Phil Steele heading into 2014 called Pittsburgh a big question-mark, with the need to replace DT Aaron Donald, who was the most dominate Panther last year. The Panthers beat Bowling Green 30-27 in the Little Caesars Bowl in '13.

If Iowa is going to give Pitt a game today, the Hawkeyes will have to establish the line of scrimmage. Other than against the run this season, Iowa has not accomplished that ability very well in '14.

The 2008 and 2011 games are over. The only constant has been Iowa's head coach Kirk Ferentz. It is a homecoming for Iowa's ole ball coach. Can he lead his team to his first victory at Pitt?

We shall see. Last week, we called for a 25-15 win. Heck, maybe we were a week early? We shall see indeed.

In 1999, Iowa fans watched Ron Dayne roll over Iowa. It was an ugly game for the Hawkeyes. It is more likely a game that will be close today. Iowa will need turnovers and a spark going into Heinz Field.

Will the grass be greener for the Home Team or Visitors from the Big Ten?