IOWA CITY, Iowa – As the seconds ticked away on Iowa’s victory in Ames Saturday, the offense walked slowly to the sideline. There, it met up with the rest of the team. Everyone joined hands.
The Hawkeyes began a slow march together across the Jack Trice Stadium field showing solidarity. The moving scene capped an emotional week that saw former Iowa stars Tyler Sash and Roy Marble pass away.
In the post-game press conference, tight end Henry Krieger Coble said reporters would need to ask Coach Kirk Ferentz about the idea. When they did, the head Hawk said he didn’t know. Senior Center Austin Blythe didn’t offer up the how but the why.
"I think that’s just who we want to be this year. That’s what we’ve talked about all winter long, all summer long. I think that just kind of symbolizes what we’ve been talking about as a team," he said.
Ferentz said he didn’t know the post-game Swarm was coming.
"I don’t know if they got together on that one," he said. "That’s part of what we do, I guess. So, they’re staying together."
The Iowa players promoted the theme of enjoying a strong bond in the media during August. That improved unity could be viewed as a knock on the 2014 squad.
Whatever went wrong last fall in a 7-6 campaign can’t be changed. The Hawkeyes worked hard together since January to affect this season. The close alliance served as a building block in the foundation for ’15.
We hear often in sports how a team is tight. They can be just words at times with people trying to convince themselves and others that it’s the case. Then, adversity hits and everything crumbles like a house of cards.
While that could happen to Iowa, this team passed its first test of sticking together through turbulence. It managed just 57 yards in the first quarter and a half at Iowa State and trailed 17-10 at halftime. It dominated after the intermission en route to a 31-17 victory.
The Hawkeyes needed to keep their cool and stay on task in enemy territory. A sell-out crowd of 61,500 could have thrown them into a tailspin.
The coaches have become part of the tight union as well by trusting their players. They’ve called two fake field goals, a flea flicker and gone for it four times on fourth down. Three of those attempts were converted into first downs.
It’s only two games. That must be kept in perspective when you consider Iowa started 6-2 a year ago. This feels different due in large part to avenging last season’s loss to the Cyclones but there’s a long way to go.
The Hawkeyes carry confidence and momentum into Saturday’s showdown with Pitt of the ACC (7 p.m. CT, BTN). Togetherness can only improve their chances against a solid opponent.
GIVING IT AWAY: It’s not surprising considering the way the game went and with how the questions led the witnesses. But the Iowa State players felt their poor play cost them against the Hawkeyes.
"I think we let it slip away because, in my opinion, I think we were the better team on the football field but they just played better," Cyclone Linebacker Jordan Harris said.
Harris said he and his teammates let up.
"I think we got too complacent in the second half. We had a seven-point lead. That’s not that much, especially when you’re playing a Big Ten team. We just got a little comfortable and took our foot off the gas," he said.
Junior linebacker Jarnor Jones was more diplomatic with his answer.
"Definitely we let it get away but every team that loses says that. We have to play better. We can’t rely on the other team not taking the game away from us. At the end of the day, it’s a loss," he said.
Said DE Dale Pierson: "We know we’re a better team that what we showed out there."
INJURY UPDATE: The news about injuries to starting defensive end Drew Ott and running back LeShun Daniels appears to have improved from Sunday to Monday, according to Ferentz, who appeared on the BTN show B1G Football & Beyond on Monday.
"We’re not going to rule either one of them out. We’re hopeful they’ll get back," the coach said on the broadcast. "They both had to leave the game Saturday and couldn’t come back in so you’re always concerned about that. But (I) got decent news (Sunday) and we’ve got five day to get ready plus a couple of extra hours with it being a night game. We’ll keep our fingers crossed."
A day earlier, during a video interview on the team’s home page, Ferentz had this to say:
“Both of them have fairly significant injuries. I wouldn’t rule them out for this week yet. We’ll see how it goes. We’re hopeful they can get back but we can’t count on that so we have to proceed right now like they’re not going to be there.”
Ferentz covered other topics regarding his team on the BTN show. You can watch the interview in its entirety here. The coach begins at about the 3:25 mark of the broadcast.
NEW TWO-DEEP: Iowa released its new depth chart for the Pittsburgh game on Monday. On it, Ott and Daniels appeared on the No. 1 line.
That could mean something in conjunction with Ferentz’s Monday comments. It also might be a smokescreen for Pitt.
The two-deep saw a few subtle changes: Jameer Outsey, who started Saturday, is listed as the Co-No. 2 tight end with George Kittle, who has been battling injury. Josh Jackson showed up as the Co-No. 2 right cornerback with Sean Draper, who was not in uniform against ISU.
Lastly, Bo Bower was listed as the back-up at LEO linebacker and Co-No.2 at WILL with Aaron Mends last week. Mends is now alone as the back-up WILL and Bower at LEO.
Click on the photo below to see the new depth chart.
QUICK-HITTERS: Iowa Quarterback C.J. Beathard shared Big Ten Offensive Player of the week honors it was announced on Monday. The junior from Tennessee completed 15 of 25 passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns along with rushing 10 times for 77 yards in claiming the honor for the first time…Iowa ranks 8th in the FBS in allowing just 49.0 rushing yards per game…The Hawkeyes are tried with Michigan for fourth among conference in scoring defense (15.5 PPG)…They’re 30th in rushing offense at 235.0…It’s the 30th anniversary of the America Needs Farmers (ANF) campaign. Saturday is the annual ANF game when Robert Gallery will be added to the Wall of Honor…Former Iowa Quarterback Chuck Long will call the Iowa-Pitt game for the BTN.