MINNEAPOLIS — An interception?
“Always fun,” Iowa senior linebacker James Morris said Saturday.
A 4-1 record?
“I was really hoping we’d be 5-0,” Morris said after the Hawkeyes’ 23-7 victory against Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium. “I’m happy with where we are, certainly not satisfied. I knew going into the season that, if this was a team that was going to be successful, we were going to have to improve on a week-by-week basis. I think we’ve done that to an extent, but we have a lot of room left.”
Morris has now recorded interceptions in two of the last three games. The other came at Iowa State. Two wins. Two trophy games. For a guy like Morris, who kept his head high and battled through a disappointing 4-8 record last season, Iowa’s 4-1 start in his final season as a Hawkeye is a reward for hard work and perseverance.
“He plays the way I expect him to,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He’s a complete football player. Nobody prepares any harder, works any harder. He does things you would hope anybody would do. And he backs it up every Saturday.”
This Hawkeyes team definitely has improved week to week in this bounce-back season so far. Can Morris quantify the progress around him?
“It’s not hard to quantify,” Morris said. “It’s not something I think you can measure in statistics, though people might try to. But I think the guys are improving. We just need to continue to do that.”
Ferentz has a model student-athlete in Morris, an academic all-American who attacks the classroom like he does offenses. In addition to his fourth-quarter interception, Morris had a sack, a tackle for a loss and eight tackles overall. He now has 324 tackles, 15th all-time in Iowa history.
One thing Morris has learned during his career is that perception is not always reality. And he, for one, will never take for granted the work still remaining for him to cap his career in a bowl game.
“My freshman year I thought, “Man, we’ve got the potential to be a juggernaut,’ ” Morris said. “But sometimes you come out and don’t necessarily execute. So to say where a team is, it’s hard to define that generally. It’s more on a week-by-week basis.”
Morris was a freshman in 2010, when the Hawkeyes started the season 7-2 before losing three straight games to end the regular season. One of those losses was a 27-24 upset at the hands of Minnesota. Iowa rebounded with a 27-24 upset of No. 12 Missouri in the Insight Bowl.
Iowa also was upset at TCF Bank Stadium 22-21 in 2011. Saturday brought Iowa’s first win over Minnesota in its 5-year-old digs. A first victory in Morris’ last visit.
“We want to win every game,” Morris said. “Particularly rivalry games. I’m glad we have something to remember.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football