IOWA CITY, Iowa – The hallmark of good Iowa teams during Kirk Ferentz’s 16 years as coach is an ability to stop the rush. Through three games this fall, the Hawkeyes are creating tough sledding for the operation.
During Saturday night’s last-second, 27-24 victory against Pitt here at Kinnick Stadium, Iowa limited the visitors to 55 yards on 27 carries. Iowa State gained just 63 on 27 attempts last week and Illinois had 35 on 28 in the opener.
The Hawkeyes now rank fifth nationally against the run, allowing 51.0 yards a game and 1.87 a carry. They’re No. 1 in the Big Ten.
Pitt came to Iowa City having rushed for 452 yards in two games. The Panthers were averaging 5.1 yards per carry but managed just 2.0 on Saturday. The Hawkeyes weren’t satisfied with their play, however.
"They had a lot of shifts and motions, things we had to adjust to and things we kind of messed up on at times, myself and a couple of other guys. We just need to fix a lot of things and we’ll see it on film, adjustments wise," MLB Josey Jewell said.
Pittsburgh converted on just 4 of 13 third down attempts. It did make two fourth-down plays on its final drive, which resulted in a touchdown to tie the game at 24-24.
"I’m definitely proud of our defense," CB Greg Mabin said. "We went out and executed our game plan for the most part. They threw a few wrinkles at us that we hadn’t seen before but I was overall pleased with our performance out there."
INJURY REPORT: Defensive End Drew Ott (elbow) and Running back LeShun Daniels (ankle) bounced back to play Saturday despite that looking like a long shot after last week’s injuries at Iowa State. Neither guy performed at 100 percent.
Daniels carried just nine times for 17 yards. Ott was utilized situationally on pass rush downs.
George Kittle, who suffered a knee injury that caused him to miss most of the second half in Week 1 and the game at Iowa State, started against Pittsburgh.
Derrick Mitchell, who missed the first game with an injury and last week due to an off-field situation, saw his first action of the season on Saturday. The running back did not carry the ball but played on multiple special teams units.
Defensive Back Sean Draper returned to action against Pitt. He missed the Iowa State game with an undisclosed injury.
SPECIAL TEAMS: I’m shooting photos for home games, which makes it difficult to keep notes and record who’s playing on the special teams units. I did manage to jot down kick-off return and coverage teams. Here they are:
Kick Return – Hillyer, King, McCarron, Perry, Fisher, Mends, Snyder, Mitchell, Plewa, Cox, Kulick.
Kick Coverage – Koehn, Draper, Perry, Niemann, Snyder, Fleming, Jewell, Fisher, Taylor, Lomax, Gair.
KOEHN RECALLS: Many Iowa fans remember where they were when Daniel Murray shocked the college football world on Nov. 8, 2008.
Iowa kicker Marshall Koehn was part of a group of family and friends that was celebrating his cousin’s wedding on a party bus that day. The bus had stopped at a bar that Koehn thinks was in Cedar Rapids so they could watch the Iowa football team try to pull off an upset against third-ranked Penn State down the road at Kinnick Stadium.
Murray secured the 24-23 upset by making a 31-yard field goal with one second remaining.
“I was 16,” Koehn said to reporters on Saturday. He then paused and said, “I wasn’t drinking.”
Turn the clock ahead seven years to this past Saturday night at Kinnick Stadium and Koehn,
ironically, was in a similar situation as Murray in 2008.
The eyes of Hawkeye nation were watching as Koehn made a 57-yard field goal as time expired to defeat Pittsburgh 27-24.
“It was just as crazy watching that probably as tonight’s (game),” Koehn said of Murray’s game-winning kick.
(Koehn Note By Pat Harty)
GETTING DEFENSIVE: Senior linebacker Cole Fisher recorded a team-high and career-best 12 tackles against Pitt. One of his stops resulted in a loss.
Free safety Jordan Lomax added 11 tackles to the winning effort. Cornerback Desmond King totaled eight tackles, two interceptions and a tackle for loss.
Defensive End Nate Meier rolled up six tackles, two for loss, with two sacks. He also was credited with a quarterback hurry.
EXTRA POINTS: Iowa improved to 7-4 all-time in night games in Kinnick…The Hawkeyes improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2009…Koehn has made seven straight field goal attempts and has connected on 7-for-8 in his career on attempts from 40 yards or longer…RB Jordan Canzeri has rushed for a touchdown in each of Iowa’s three games this year. He entered the season with two rushing touchdowns in 29 career games…TE Henry Krieger Coble caught a career-high five passes for career-best 48 yards…WR Jacob Hillyer matched his career-high with two catches for a career-best 52 yards…The Hawkeyes have played 59 consecutive games without a missed or blocked PAT, the longest streak of any school in the nation. Iowa has converted on 179 consecutive PATs during the streak.