IOWA FOOTBALL

Iowa searching for identity with conference opener ahead

2012-09-24T18:16:00Z 2012-09-24T21:28:54Z Iowa searching for identity with conference opener aheadSTEVE BATTERSON Quad City Times Sioux City Journal
September 24, 2012 6:16 pm  • 

IOWA CITY | This wasn’t what James Vandenberg expected.

Saturday’s 32-31 loss to Central Michigan leaves the Iowa football team at 2-2 heading into its Big Ten opener with Minnesota, a reflection of the inconsistency the Hawkeyes have shown during the opening weeks of the season.

“Obviously, you’d love to be 4-0, but that’s not the case,’’ Iowa’s senior quarterback said. “We haven’t played well enough to be 4-0.’’

Vandenberg knows the routine.

Iowa reviewed tape and made on-field corrections during Sunday’s practice.

Following the mandated off-day Monday, the Hawkeyes return to the practice field Today with one eye on the Golden Gophers and the other on making the improvements necessary to elevate the team’s level of play.

Vandenberg expects to learn a lot about his teammates this week as Iowa works toward Saturday’s 11 a.m. conference opener.

“When you go through tough situations, you really see peoples’ inner character,’’ Vandenberg said. “I have a lot of faith in the guys in the locker room, offense, defense, special teams. We’ll respond to this.’’

Following two straight weeks of quality practices and an improved performance in a win over Northern Iowa, his team’s execution and costly mistakes against Central Michigan caught Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz by surprise.

“I thought we took a real positive step a week ago. I thought we really improved as a team, and then today that wasn’t the case,’’ Ferentz said.

Working with the most inexperienced team he has had, Ferentz suspects the roller coaster ride may continue for Iowa.

“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 Hawkeyes have a lot to clean up before the Golden Gophers bring Floyd of Rosedale to Kinnick Stadium, a place the traveling trophy hasn’t been since Iowa last won in the series in 2009 in Vandenberg’s second start in place of an injured Ricky Stanzi.

Iowa was flagged for four personal fouls among nine penalties covering 106 yards on Saturday, the most penalty yards since the Hawkeyes collected 111 in a 2007 victory at Northwestern.

“It’s guys and their pride, you get pushed, you push them back, I’ve got to show this guy,’’ linebacker James Morris said. “That’s a losing battle you’re never going to win, in my mind. You just walk away. It’s the heat of the game and unfortunately, that’s a part of it, so we have to be smarter.’’

Vandenberg wasn’t pointing fingers following the loss.

“We had a couple of drives we could have finished, too,’’ he said. “It’s a team game and we all had a hand in what happened. It’s up to all of us to fix it.’’

GOPHERS QB LIKELY OUT

Minnesota quarterback MarQueis Gray will likely miss his second straight start Saturday when the Golden Gophers open Big Ten play at Iowa.

Coach Jerry Kill told the St. Paul Pioneer-Press on Sunday that while Gray seems to be recovering quickly from a high ankle sprain which forced him off the field during the second quarter of a Sept. 15 game with Western Michigan, he doubts he will be ready for the Hawkeyes.

“Me and him came out of the locker room at the start of (Saturday’s) game. I’m 51 years and I jogged. He wasn’t jogging out,’’ Kill said. “For him to get better that quick, that would be great … but we would have to see vast improvement.’’

Sophomore Max Shortell threw for 231 yards Saturday in Minnesota’s 17-10 win over Syracuse and threw three touchdown passes to rally the Gophers past Western Michigan the previous week.

Copyright 2015 Sioux City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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