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9/7/2010: Iowa football notebook

Posted on 07. Sep, 2010 by in Iowa Football

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By Brendan Stiles

HawkeyeDrive.com

Kirk Ferentz, Sept. 7, 2010

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz discusses Iowa-Iowa State game

IOWA CITY, Iowa — When the Iowa Hawkeyes went into Jack Trice Stadium in Ames last season, everything that could have gone right did, as they went on to beat Iowa State, 35-3.

But there was one part of that game where the Cyclones had success, rushing for 190 yards on the Hawkeye defense despite only scoring three points.

This statistic was something Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz was quick to mention publicly once discussion about the 2009 meeting with Iowa State arose.

“No matter who we’re playing, if we are giving up 190 on the ground, we had better be scoring about 50 points a game, and I don’t think we can count on that right now,” Ferentz said. “It’s just not a good way to be living.”

Of those 190 yards rushing from the Cyclones last September, 100 of them came via 19 carries from running back Alexander Robinson. Last week, the fifth-year senior had 96 yards rushing for Iowa State in its 27-10 win over Northern Illinois.

The challenge for Iowa’s front four will be to not only contain Robinson, which it was unable to do last year, but to get a push against a giant Cyclone offensive line.

“Watching them on film, they definitely improved a lot,” senior defensive lineman Christian Ballard said. “Going into this game, we’re going to have to bring our ‘A-game,’ because these guys can make the cuts they need and make good plays.

“Trying to stop that, that’s going to be a top priority.”

Renewing the rivalry

For the Hawkeye players who come to Iowa from other states, it doesn’t take them long to understand the significance of this rivalry between Iowa and Iowa State.

Senior punter Ryan Donahue is a native of Evergreen Park, Ill. He can still recall when he was a redshirt freshman in 2007. That season marks the last time the Cyclones defeated the Hawkeyes.

That loss made him realize the impact this rivalry has on people in the state.

“That’s when I started to get the blood boiling, after we lost,” Donahue said. “You see how much it means to everyone in Iowa, and I kind of became a part of that. I became a part of that whole tradition, being a Hawkeye.

“Losing is not fun, especially to an in-state rival because you’re going to hear about it for the next year. That’s not something we want to hear about. We want to go out there and win.”

Then there are those like junior safety Tyler Sash, an Oskaloosa native who has made a career feasting off the Cyclones. He made the first big play of his Hawkeye career two seasons ago against Iowa State, intercepting a pass in the red zone to halt a Cyclone scoring threat.

Last season in Ames, Sash arguably had the best game of his entire career, collecting three interceptions in the 32-point Iowa win.

“It’s everything to me,” Sash said about the intrastate rivalry. “Growing up, all I knew was the Iowa-Iowa State game, when I was younger. I’m very excited to be a part of it.”

Koeppel makes national TV appearance

Just eight days after being hit by a truck while riding his moped, senior center Josh Koeppel was a guest on “The Today Show” Tuesday morning.

Shortly after the accident, there was video released online. It showed Koeppel flying off his moped, losing his flip flops and phone. Miraculously, he managed to get up with only bruises and scrapes, and was able to find his phone and look for the nearest sidewalk.

Koeppel admitted he was caught off-guard when NBC asked him about coming on its show to discuss it.

“I never would have imagined any of this to get out of this proportion here,” the Iowa City native said. “I just kind of tell them the story over and over again like I have everybody else. I’m sure here in a week, things will kind of pass.”

He was cleared to play against Eastern Illinois, but only took part in drills. Tuesday marked the first time Koeppel would be able to actually practice since the accident.

“It will be nice just to get out there and get back with the guys,” Koeppel said. “It’s not really fun just standing there. You kind of feel isolated a little bit.”

Adding a “Jewel” to the backfield

Last week, it was all about sophomore running back Adam Robinson. The Des Moines native rushed for 109 yards and three touchdowns in the Hawkeyes’ 37-7 win over Eastern Illinois.

Robinson is listed as the starter, but Iowa will have the luxury of sophomore running back Jewel Hampton at its disposal for the first time since the 2009 Outback Bowl.

“I’ve already envisioned me being on the field already,” Hampton said. “It’s just going to be pretty much like I’m at home.”

Hampton missed the entire 2009 season due to a torn ACL, and was suspended last week as a consequence for an alcohol-related arrest last June.

In that time, Robinson became the featured running back. As a matter of fact, he made his first career start against the Cyclones last year, and became the first freshman running back to start a game for Iowa since Ladell Betts in 1998.

Robinson said the thing he has learned since that game is the importance of mental preparation, having a routine both before and after games, as well as during the week, to stick to.

“That has just really been my approach ever since that first start,” he said.

Now having both running backs available is something exciting the entire team, particularly the offensive line.

“I think they kind of complement each other spectacularly,” senior offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde said. “It almost kind of reminds me of when we used to have Albert Young and Damian Sims. Damian was kind of a more quick and shifty kind of guy, whereas Albert Young was more of a straight ahead power runner.

“I think you can see that same sort of dynamic between Jewel and Adam, and I think it’s definitely going to help boost our run game a lot.”

O’Meara receives Big Ten honor

On Sept. 6, Iowa senior running back Paki O’Meara was named the Big Ten’s Special Teams Player of the Week. He received the accolade after blocking an Eastern Illinois punt and returning it 42 yards for a touchdown during the first quarter of Iowa’s 30-point win last weekend.

The honor meant something to O’Meara, but so did the reaction friends and family had seeing his highlight on TV afterwards.

He recalled watching the play on “SportsCenter,” saying it was “surreal.”

“I was just sitting around with a couple of my roommates just watching the games,” O’Meara said. “They kind of did a recap of some things and it came up. It was a surprise. Funny, and surreal, I guess.”

Hawkeyes stay ninth in AP

The latest AP poll was released Tuesday afternoon, and the Hawkeyes remain ranked at No. 9 overall.

Iowa was one of four teams to be ranked in this week’s poll from the Big Ten. Ohio State remained at No. 2, while Wisconsin and Penn State each moved up one spot to 11th and 18th, respectively.

Just outside the top 25 is Michigan, who defeated Connecticut on Sept. 4, 30-10. Michigan State also received votes.

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