IOWA CITY, Ia. Four games into the football season, and Iowa still has situations to address before Saturday’s 11 a.m. Big Ten Conference opener against Minnesota at Kinnick Stadium. Questions need answered about why the Hawkeyes have lost two non-conference home games for the first time since going 3-9 in 2000.
Can they handle an onside kick when it comes up again? Can someone give running back Mark Weisman a breather? Missed tackles? They’re still a problem, too.
Are penalties, of which there were many Saturday, a trend waiting to happen? Is it something else?
“I tell our team all the time, we get what we deserve,” coach Kirk Ferentz said after Saturday’s 32-31 loss against Central Michigan at Kinnick Stadium, “and that’s what we got.”
One of the few certainties as the 2-2 Hawkeyes practice this week is Weisman, whose two-game 330 rushing yards include Saturday’s 217 on 27 carries. The 235-pounder who punishes defensive backs after clearing scrimmage is a sure bet to produce something positive, as is place-kicker Mike Meyer.
Some of the rest has even Ferentz confounded as he plots strategy to face a team with its first 4-0 start since 2008.
“I don’t want to say the loss is surprising,” Ferentz said after Saturday’s game. “The way we played based on how we practiced — that’s a contradiction, so, if we had a bad week, I could say I saw this one coming.
“That wasn’t the case this time.”
Two situations exemplified Iowa’s dilemma while losing for just the third time against a Mid-American Conference team since 1999.
The first was when the Hawkeyes were uncertain about whether to go for it on fourth-and-6 from the Central Michigan 29-yard in the fourth quarter, or have Meyer attempt a 46-yard field goal.
At first, it appeared Iowa was going to run a fourth-down play, then after a timeout, Meyer ran onto the field.
“I can’t tell you what happened,” quarterback James Vandenberg said.
Neither can Meyer.
“The coaches were debating whether we were going to go for it, or kicking it,” he said.
His success provided Iowa a 24-23 lead before the Hawkeyes proved again they couldn’t handle an onside kick. The Chippewas recovered, and it eventually led to a game-winning field goal.The same onside kick disaster happened in Iowa losses against Minnesota the past two seasons.
“I thought we took a real positive step a week ago,” Ferentz said, referring to a victory against Northern Iowa. “I thought we really improved as a team, and then (Saturday), that wasn’t the case.
“It’s going to be like that all season. We’re focused on trying to get ready for an opponent, but also trying to get better as a team. This will be another busy week, for obvious reasons.”
The Iowa football team still is search for answers on the following topics:
THE BACKUP RUNNING BACK
Mark Weisman is a solid starter, but had no relief Saturday.
Ferentz wanted to play freshman Michael Malloy, however the score didn’t allow it. Damon Bullock is recovering from a concussion, Greg Garmon from an elbow injury, and Jordan Canzeri is regaining his strength after undergoing ACL surgery in April.
“They’ve got a chance to play (Saturday),” Ferentz said.
BIG TEN CONFERENCE
If Iowa can’t beat a team picked to finish in the MAC’s second division at home, then how well can it expect to fare in the Big Ten Conference?
“Our team is not a troubled team,” linebacker James Morris said. “We have a lot of good guys on our team. I don’t worry about the character of our guys at all, I just worry about us maturing and being able to understand what to do in certain situations.
“I’ve been in a lot of these situations, some guys haven’t. Some guys have started four games, but that’s not a heck of a lot.”
WINS ON THE ROAD
How many road victories can fans anticipate for a team that lost two of three non-conference home games — Saturday and against Iowa State?
The Hawkeyes don’t play before a hostile crowd until Oct.<TH>13 at Michigan State—the same Michigan State outfit that beat Central Michigan by 34 points two weeks ago.
“The season is not over,” receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley said. “We have a game next week. We’re going to bounce back.”
AND DON’T FORGET…
Figuring a way to stop opponents from scoring on their first possession. Iowa State did it, followed by Northern Iowa, and then Central Michigan.
IOWA GAME INFO
WHO: Minnesota (4-0)
at Iowa (2-2)
WHEN: 11 a.m. Saturday
WHERE: Kinnick Stadium,
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football