IOWA CITY, Iowa – For the first time in a while, the Hawkeyes made it through a game without losing players to injury. They even got a few back on Saturday in a 31-15 win against Maryland.
“All the experiences our guys have gone through so far, hopefully we’ll be a stronger team in November,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said of his MASH unit. “November is when it all counts. You work hard to get to November where the games really mean something, and I compliment our team on that. They’ve done a good job of doing that, and now it’s where it gets kind of fun and gets a little sticky, but that’s good stuff, but it still gets back to we’re going to line up Monday and start talking about winning the next football game on our schedule.”
After missing two games, running back LeShun Daniels returned to the lineup in a reserve role. The junior from Ohio carried 13 times for 60 yards and a touchdown.
“Certainly one of the best things I saw, it looked like LeShun was back to being LeShun Daniels again, and we haven’t seen that in a while, so that was really refreshing,” Ferentz said.
Left Tackle Boone Myers hopped back on the field after missing the team’s previous three contests. His return pushed Cole Croston, who started the last three games at left tackle, to right tackle on Saturday.
“Boone got through the game just fine physically. He was hungry to go, certainly you’re right about that, and practiced well this week. This was his first week back in pads, and so we’ll get him back,” Ferentz said.
Ike Boettger, who misses his second game in a row Saturday, started the team’s first six games at right tackle. Ferentz said Saturday that the sophomore from Cedar Falls was improving and coach hoped he’d be back in the lineup in the next few weeks.
Running back Jordan Canzeri, who started the previous five contests, missed Saturday’s game after suffering a high ankle sprain at Northwestern before the bye week. Like Better, Ferentz said he was optimistic that the senior from New York would be available by the Minnesota game in two weeks.
“Hopefully Ike is getting pretty close, too, just like Jordan. Maybe the next week or two we’ll get them back, also,” Ferentz said.
Third-string quarterback Ryan Boyle, who’s expected to red shirt this season, did not dress for Saturday’s game. Classmate Drew Cook served as the third-strong signal caller against Maryland.
The Hawkeyes have been able to withstand injuries and keep on rolling. Perhaps that created an even better situation moving forward.
“The good news is when guys do step up and really do something good, that’s how you build depth. That’s how you build a stronger football team,” Ferentz said. “I think I also said this before the bye, the one thing that made me feel a little bit better as a coach was knowing that we were 10 weeks at that time, 10, 11 weeks into the season as opposed to the start of August. So most of our guys are better players now, and that’s something you hope for.”
SPECIAL TEAMS: Here’s how the Hawkeyes lined up on their return and coverage teams Saturday.
Kick Return – Desmond King, Riley McCarron, Bo Bower, Drake Kullick, Macon Plewa, Jack Hockaday, Brandon Snyder, George Kittle, Adam Cox, Travis Perry, Adrian Falconer.
Kick Coverage – Marshall Koehn, Maurice Fleming, Perry, Kevin Ward, Bower, Sean Draper, Anthony Gair, Snyder, Ben Niemann, Hockaday, Cole Fisher.
Punt Coverage – Dillon Kidd, Tyler Kluver, Snyder, Josh Jackson, Jake Hulett, Plewa, Ward, McCarron, Jewell, Fisher, Perry.
Punt Return – Ward, Snyder, Bower, Mends, Perry, Fleming, Jackson, King, Hockaday, Mccarran, Kullick.
TAKING EXCEPTION: Ferentz, unsolicited, defended his quarterback, C.J. Beathard, who was described by a media member from the East Coast in a way the coach didn’t appreciate.
“I read a report (Friday) that was kind of interesting, called him a “game manager,” which is like one of the worst terms you can give anybody, I think, as a quarterback. But I’ll tell you what, he’s got a pretty live arm. I think he’s done a great job. He’s leading our football team, and he threw a couple really good balls out there (Saturday) again,” Ferentz said.
The irony there, of course, is that last year’s Iowa quarterback, Jake Rudock, often is referred to as a game manager. The coach just doesn’t see that in his current signal caller.
“I was kind of chuckling about that. I needed a little comic relief at the end of the week. I got it. It was perfect.It was somebody that hasn’t watched a lot of our football; put it that way,” Ferentz said.
Beathard completed 12 of 23 passes for 183 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. He was sacked four times and still limited by leg injuries.
"He’s not 100 percent, won’t be, so we’ll try to be smart about what we do that way, and I’m sure they had that figured out (Saturday) probably coming into the game," Ferentz said.
EXTRA-POINTS: The Hawkeyes are 8-0 for the first time since 2009, the second time under Kirk Ferentz, and the second time in school history. Iowa started 9-0 in 2009, its best start in school history…Iowa is 4-0 in the Big Ten for the third time under Kirk Ferentz. Iowa opened 4-0 in the Big Ten in 2009 (5-0) and 2002 (8-0)…Iowa was plus-three in turnovers today and is plus-10 on the season. Iowa has 19 takeaways this season, and turned them into 71 points…CB Desmond King’s fourth quarter interception was his seventh interception of the season. He is the first Hawkeye since Kerry Burt in 1987 to have seven interceptions in a single season. King has 10 career interceptions, tying for 10th all-time…Rose Bowl reps were at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday.