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Preparing to finish

[ 3 ] June 21, 2011 |

Much like when he chases after a quarterback, Iowa defensive end Broderick Binns held nothing back with reporters Tuesday.

When asked if a lack of conditioning was the reason Iowa had a costly habit of blowing leads in the fourth quarter last season, Binns didn’t beat around the bush.

“I thought it was because the year before, the Orange Bowl year, we were able to finish games in the fourth quarter,” Binns said during a 45-minute question-and-answer session with several Iowa players and the media. “Last year, we weren’t.

“So I just attribute it to us not being ready to take on the fourth quarter.”

But when asked why, Binns drew a blank.

“I really couldn’t tell you because we’ve done the same summer program for the past five years that I’ve been here,” he said. “It’s the same routine.

“I couldn’t tell you. But in my mind, that’s what it was, not being conditioned enough.”

It makes no sense that a program that prides itself on having players in tip-top shape, and whose strength and conditioning program is held in such high regard, would succumb to fatigue and blow fourth-quarter leads in all five of its losses last season.

It might suggest that corners are being cut at Iowa, which would contradict the criticism leveled against the program after 13 Hawkeye players were hospitalized in January with a rare muscle disorder that was believed to be caused by a grueling squat exercise.

The only answer I can come up with is that sometimes stuff just happens without explanation. The important thing is to learn from what happened and then make the necessary adjustments to avoid repeating the same mistakes.

Part of the adjustment for Binns, besides changing his diet, is helping to make sure as a senior leader that nobody cuts corners during the dog days of summer.

It’s easy to procrastinate or to skip a summer workout when the season is still a few months away and when the heat and humidity make the air feel like warm pancake syrup.

“If someone is slacking, we definitely get on them,” Binns said. “We tell them last year we lost too many close games and it’s because guys couldn’t finish.

“So the conditioning level starts now. You start conditioning well now, and it won’t be a problem during the season.”

Before you accuse Binns of throwing last year’s senior-dominated team under the bus, he included himself in his criticism.

The St. Paul, Minn., native is taking steps to make sure that he holds up in the fourth quarter this coming season, including sacrificing fast food.

“I’m definitely trying to eat more healthy,” Binns said. “I’m trying to stay away from fast food. And I’ve done a pretty good job of that, better than last summer.”

As celebrated as Iowa’s senior-laden defensive line was last season, you could make a strong argument that the group underachieved, especially in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.

There was no hiding the fact that the Iowa defensive linemen looked gassed at the end of some games last season. You’d see them gasping for air in between plays and struggling to get back to the line of scrimmage.

In fairness, it’s not easy chasing down slippery quarterbacks like Northwestern’s Dan Persa and Michigan’s Denard Robinson, but nobody ever said playing Big Ten football would be easy.

It takes an incredible amount of hard work, sacrifice and commitment.

It also takes veteran leadership to make sure that everybody is being held accountable.

“That’s something I’m trying to address to everyone,” said senior-to-be cornerback Shaun Prater.

“Go into this summer attacking your weaknesses. Pin-point it. Address it. And attack it.”

Binns sounds well on his way to doing that.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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