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Hawk Talk

Iowa 27 / UNI 16

One of the great things about following college football (or pro football) is that it only happens once a week.
If your team wins (like the Hawkeyes) you have all week to enjoy the victory, watch the replay of the game  (if you tape it like me) and break down the win.
The dark side is if you lose, you have a whole week of some sport writers ripping the Hawks, the message boards ready to fire every coach and a long week to deal with the negatives.
It’s even worse when your pro team (Da Bears) loses like they did to the Packers Thursday.
The Hawkeyes took care of the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) Panthers last Saturday, so it will be a good week for Hawk fans (and me).
I had a feeling that UNI would hang with Iowa the first half and then the Hawks would put the hammer down and they did, winning 27-16. It could have easily been 34-16 but the Panthers had a goal line stand with a fourth and 1 and Iowa couldn’t punch it in. There were less than three minutes left in the game and now the Hawks are 2-1.
The offense has been struggling the first two weeks but a third string tailback, who started at fullback, ran over the Panthers with three touchdowns.
Mark Weisman, a walk-on transfer from the Air Force, came in for injured Damon Bullock and Greg Garman, ran for 113 yards on 24 carries, caught three passes for 33 yards and carried the Hawks to the win.
“The offensive line was unbelievable,” said Mark, who came into the game with two career carries. “Brad Rogers stepped in and was unbelievable blocking at fullback. We were moving pretty good and we got stalled a little bit, but overall the offense played pretty well.”
Mark not only did a good job of finding the hole but he showed a little Shonn Greene by running over some Panther defenders. He checks in at 235 pounds and is a load to bring down.
“We did not see him playing the role he did, but it’s a real credit to Mark,” said Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz. “I made a comment after fall camp that he might have been the most improved player we had at that period of time. He’s a hard working guy and a real tough-minded guy. He really looked good in practice, so that was good to see.”
Iowa had 201 yards rushing and 228 yards passing. That’s what Kirk Ferentz is looking for because it keeps the defense off-balance.
“We played with balance today and that was important,” said coach Ferentz. “We scored touchdowns and we haven’t exactly done great in that regard. To have the drives and finish them, come away with not only points but touchdowns. I thought we had some individuals step up. Mark Weisman was good and Jordan Cotton made a tough catch as did Keenan Davis on third down conversions. Those kinds of things are encouraging as we move forward.”
I also think that when you give James Vandenberg protection (no sacks) and the receivers hang onto the ball (only one dropped pass) he is a pretty good quarterback.
James was 18-28 for 228 yards and he looked confident in the pocket. He didn’t throw any touchdown passes but he had some big third down completions and didn’t throw any picks.
I thought Keenan Davis made some big catches and Kevonte Martin-Manly almost scored on a 51-yard catch and run down to the 1 yard line... both caught five passes.
You have to give a lot of credit to the offensive line. James Ferentz, Bret Van Sloten, Austin Blythe, Matt Tobin and Brandon Scherff did a solid job of blocking all afternoon.
For the third straight week, the defensive gave up an opening score but then put the clamps down on the UNI offense.
Anthony Hitchens and James Morris led the way with 10 and eight tackles respectively with James getting a tackle for a loss. Tom Donatell came up with his second interception in two weeks.
The big stat of the day was Iowa converted 9-14 in third down plays while UNI made only 2-10. The Hawks also dominated time of possession, controlling the clock for 35 minutes while the Panthers had the ball for 25.
The special teams had its good with Mike Meyers 2-2 in field goals and two touchbacks on kickoffs.
The punting game was hit-and-miss. Connor Kornbrath had his first punt go 40 yards, his second had too much backspin on it and it ended up a 10-yard punt.
I try to remember when Nate Kaeding was a freshman, he was booed in a game at Kinnick against Ohio State when he missed his second field goal… Nate turned out all right.
Connor will get better as he gets more punting in.
Like I said before, when Iowa wins it’s a great week and it seems to go fast, so this week will be fun.
The Hawks play Central Michigan at Kinnick this Saturday and thank goodness it’s an 11 a.m. kickoff.
I must be getting old, because those 2:30 p.m. starts really wear me out. It probably doesn’t help that I get up at 5:30 a.m. and am at the game before 9 a.m.
Iowa needs to keep on getting better… they sure did last Saturday.