Iowa coach hoping team can return to glory days

  • Article by: MARK EMMERT SPECIAL TO THE STAR TRIBUNE
  • Updated: September 27, 2013 - 11:35 AM

 

The Iowa football team is weary of the sniping. Detractors write off the Hawkeyes as bland and slow, question their coach’s salary and daring, and wonder whether Iowa City is still a viable road to the NFL.

The Orange Bowl winner and seventh-ranked team in the nation just four seasons ago, Iowa opened itself to skepticism with three lackluster campaigns that followed.

But enough was enough. As the Hawkeyes broke the huddle during a throttling of rival Iowa State two weeks ago, they were dismayed to hear Bon Jovi blaring from the loudspeakers at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. They instructed the referees to put a stop to it so they could quietly continue running the ball through the Cyclones’ overmatched defense.

The message: Maybe the sport is changing and faster and louder is all the rage. But Iowa is not afraid to be the crotchety next-door neighbor who makes you conform to his way of doing things.

Could Iowa football be both stubborn and reborn?

“They finally have an offensive identity. They didn’t have that last year,” said Chuck Long, former Hawkeyes quarterback and current Big Ten Network analyst. “They’re playing to the players’ strengths a lot better. They’re going to run the football, and they’re going to stop the run.

“I think they went into this season getting back to what [coach] Kirk Ferentz has always been about.”

The Hawkeyes are 3-1, with a rugged tailback churning up yards behind a proficient offensive line and a trio of veteran linebackers who are spearheading a strong defense. But the Big Ten schedule begins Saturday against an equally motivated and undefeated Gophers team.

That’s when we will start to find out if the Hawkeyes are ready to become what they used to be.

Retracing the steps

Joe Chmelka believes he can pinpoint when Iowa’s malaise began. The avid fan was in the stands at Kinnick Stadium on Oct. 23, 2010, when Wisconsin sent its punt unit onto the field at its 26-yard-line, trailing 30-24 with less than 6 minutes to play.

“Everyone could see what was coming. We all stood up and screamed it,” Chmelka said. “We [the Hawkeyes] just weren’t ready for it.”

“It” was a fake punt that resulted in a 17-yard gain and, eventually, led to the Badgers’ winning touchdown. The Hawkeyes, following that 11-2 Orange Bowl-winning season, were 5-1 entering the Wisconsin game and ranked 13th in the nation. They went 14-18 from that moment until the end of a 2012 season that ended with a 4-8 record, including six consecutive losses to conclude Big Ten play.

The Hawkeyes seemed to have every answer while going 4-1 in games decided by three or fewer points in 2009. They have been 3-10 in such contests since, including a season-opening 30-27 loss at home to Northern Illinois this year. Most galling to Hawkeyes fans is that two of those close losses were to Iowa State and two more to the Gophers, rivals they feel they should routinely beat, and once did.

Fans have seen a slew of highly touted ball­carriers succumb to injury (eight since 2010), quit the program, or run afoul of the law and either be dismissed from the team or decide to transfer. It became the subject of dark humor in Iowa, but for an offense that relies on a strong running game and a team that typically lacks explosive playmakers, it was no laughing matter.

“They’ve really never had a burner outside to stretch the field,” said Howard Griffith, another BTN analyst. “Iowa’s niche has been — and will continue to be — to get good players in and develop them within a system. They’re not getting the elite players, so it puts a greater burden on the coaches. And then when you have all those injuries? That’s a real problem.”

Ferentz looks for answers

  • related content

  • Hartman: Leidner gets chance to be in Iowa rivalry

    Friday September 27, 2013

    The QB has filled in superbly for Philip Nelson and hopes to help bring Floyd of Rosedale back to Minnesota.

  • Gophers among best in limiting penalties, turnovers

    Friday September 27, 2013

    The Gophers head into Saturday’s showdown with Iowa as one of the least penalized teams in the nation — and...

  • Chart: Iowa as good as new?

    Thursday September 26, 2013

    GOOD AS NEW?A look at where Iowa has ranked nationally against fellow FBS teams since 2009 in two areas. The Hawkeyes...

  • Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, left, talks with Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill before an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

  • Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, in his 15th season, has critics aplenty after three lackluster seasons. Iowa is off to 3-1 start this year.

  • Iowa's Mark Weisman is sixth in the country in rushing with 468 yards.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Yankees - LP: M. Pineda 0 FINAL
Toronto - WP: D. Hutchison 2
Detroit - LP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: C. Sale 6
Chicago Cubs - WP: F. Doubront 5 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: J. Masterson 1
Cincinnati - LP: A. Simon 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 3
Minnesota - LP: J. Burton 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: A. Miller 3
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 7 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: B. Colon 2
Miami - WP: J. Cosart 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: A. Harang 0
Boston - LP: A. Webster 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Odorizzi 7
Cleveland - WP: J. Tomlin 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: S. Downs 2
Detroit - WP: K. Ryan 8 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: C. Bassitt 4
Texas - LP: P. Klein 0 FINAL
Houston - WP: S. Feldman 2
Colorado - WP: T. Matzek 2 FINAL
Arizona - LP: V. Nuno 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wada 2 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Gonzales 13
Los Angeles - LP: J. Wright 1 FINAL
San Diego - WP: T. Stauffer 2
Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: J. Peavy 3
Oakland - LP: J. Samardzija 0 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: Y. Herrera 2
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 3 FINAL
Seattle - LP: R. Elias 1
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
BYU 35 FINAL
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
UNLV 13 FINAL
Arizona 58
Penn State 26 FINAL
UCF 24
Troy 10 FINAL
UAB 48
(7) UCLA 28 FINAL
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Massachusetts 7
West Virginia 23 FINAL
(2) Alabama 33
Rice 17 FINAL
(17) Notre Dame 48
(10) South Dakota St 18 FINAL
(24) Missouri 38
Fla Atlantic 7 FINAL
(22) Nebraska 55
California 31 FINAL
Northwestern 24
Marshall 42 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 27
UC Davis 0 FINAL
(11) Stanford 45
Arkansas 21 FINAL
(6) Auburn 45
(16) Clemson 21 FINAL
(12) Georgia 45
Liberty 29 FINAL
(23) North Carolina 56
Ohio U 17 FINAL
Kent State 14
Louisiana Tech 16 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 48
Stephen F Austin 16 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 55
Fresno State 13 FINAL
(15) USC 52
Southern Miss 0 FINAL
Miss State 49
Texas-El Paso 31 FINAL
New Mexico 24
North Texas 7 FINAL
Texas 38
(1) Florida State 37 FINAL
Oklahoma State 31
(14) Wisconsin 24 FINAL
(13) LSU 28
Idaho 0 Postponed
Florida 0
South Dakota 13 FINAL
(3) Oregon 62
(25) Washington 17 FINAL
Hawaii 16
Utah State 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Colorado 0 FINAL
Seattle 1
New England 3 FINAL
Toronto FC 0
Columbus 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
FC Dallas 0 FINAL
Chicago 1
Real Salt Lake 1 FINAL
San Jose 1
Portland 3 FINAL
Vancouver FC 0
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Chicago 70 FINAL
Indiana 77
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pm
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pm
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. TBA
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Gophers in their season opener

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close