After a disappointing loss in Tucson last weekend, the Iowa Hawkeyes will return home to Kinnick Stadium on Saturday to play against the Ball St. Cardinals (1-2). The Cardinals lost 24-13 against Purdue last Saturday.
Iowa last played the Cardinals in 2005 and won 56-0.
Iowa (1-1) staged an amazing comeback in last Saturday’s game but couldn’t get it together to produce a win, losing 34-27 against the No. 14 Arizona Wildcats. When asked by the media what was the one positive he could take away from last week’s game, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz responded at his Tuesday press conference, “We fought back in the second half and gave ourselves a chance to win. We couldn’t quite get it done. So if there was a positive, that was it, certainly, and then just looking at the loss, not to beat a dead horse, but our special teams leave a lot to be desired right now.”
Huh, so the positive is fighting back? That seems a little weak and unfortunate.
One area of continued concern for the Hawkeyes is going to be injuries.
Senior running back Jewel Hampton, who was out last season with a torn ACL, is now out for the season with a second torn ACL. Week No. 1 special teams superstar and pinch hitting running back Paki O’Meara, is out for Saturday’s game, recovering from a concussion and backup linebacker Bruce Davis is out for the season with a knee injury.
And equally important, Iowa’s defensive coordinator Norm Parker remains hospitalized with complications from diabetes. Parker has already missed two games and is on target to return for the last seven games of the season.
The season of 2004 continues to loom.
For Saturday’s game, Iowa sophomore running back Adam Robinson will have two freshmen as his backups: Marcus Coker and De’Andre Johnson. Coker has been recovering from an injury and Johnson will need to come up to speed as he’s been on the scout team. While Arizona stopped Iowa’s running game last week, in the first two games of the season, Robinson carried the ball 48 times for 270 yards. He has four touchdowns and has caught three passes for 62 yards.
Other areas the Hawkeyes will look to improve is its offensive line and special teams. Senior quarterback Ricky Stanzi was sacked three times by Arizona and Ferentz has responded by saying the team needs to move forward and not let that happen again. He also commented on Saturday’s blocked punt, which would have let the Hawkeyes take a 28-27 lead by saying on Tuesday, ”The thing I’m focused on, we gave up a blocked punt, which as I said the last time we did, it was ’08 at Pittsburgh, I believe, and we lost that game. You give up a blocked punt, and that involved it’s something that we are prepared for, at least I would like to think going into the game, that I know we had practice at and we just didn’t execute it.”
With its depleted running back stable, Stanzi will look to his wide receivers this week. Senior wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos is listed as the Hawkeyes’ starter. Last week, Koulianos had 7 catches for 114 yards and a touchdown. Marvin McNutt is Iowa’s other wide receiver and is also having a great year. He’s had seven receptions for 159 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 22.7 yards per catch.
Iowa’s weak kicking will have sophomore Trent Mossbrucker as the starter this week; he had a PAT blocked by Arizona in the fourth quarter. No need to dwell on that, just move on. Kicker Daniel Murray remains off the depth chart.
Stanzi appears to have better control of the ball this season with only one interception; he also has great stats. He’s completed 47 of 74 passes for 711 yards and has six touchdowns. Stanzi will look for Koulianos, McNutt and Robinson to get the team back on track this week and prepare for next week’s conference opener against Penn State.
Iowa is a 27-point favorite against Ball St.
In addition to returning home, Iowa will be wearing their 1960s throwback uniforms on Saturday. Athletes are supersititious in their game wear and rituals but maybe this will be a good change of pace.
The game is at 11 a.m. central and will be televised on the Big Ten network.
About the Author
Written by Debbie Baratz