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Iowa football: Hawkeyes focus on fixing special teams

[ 0 ] September 20, 2010 |

The play of Iowa’s special teams on Saturday was unsightly.

Miscues against Arizona in the protection schemes led to two blocks, and shoddy kickoff coverage resulted in a return for a touchdown.

Add it all together, and it amounts to a 15-point swing in a 34-27 defeat.

Iowa's Ryan Donahue has his punt blocked by Arizonas' David Roberts during the first quarter. (David Kadlubowski/Arizona Republic)

“That was tough to watch from the sidelines,” defensive end Broderick Binns said. “Iowa is not known for having a lot of problems on special teams. We just need to go back to the drawing board and work on some things.”

Judging from coach Kirk Ferentz’s tone, much of this week’s preparation for Ball State will focus on correcting what went wrong in Tucson, Ariz.

“We were poor in special teams,” he said. “I couldn’t put it another way.”

The problems started on Iowa’s initial series of the game, when Ryan Donahue’s punt was swatted by the Wildcats’ David Roberts and recovered by Marquis Flowers.

Arizona had blocked just one punt in its previous 51 games.

“David has a knack for getting to the ball, for getting close,” special teams coach Jeff Hammerschmidt told the Arizona Daily Star. “I felt David and Marquis could get through, using a twist, with David looping behind Marquis, and he did.

The Wildcats took over at the 8-yard line and went ahead 7-0 moments later. It was the sort of lapse special teams coaches dread.

“Coach (Lester) Erb always tells us if you get a punt blocked, you’re probably going to lose,” Hawkeye safety Tyler Sash said. “And that’s what happened.”

The Hawkeyes eventually trailed 14-0, but scored on a touchdown pass from Ricky Stanzi, to Jewel Hampton.

Just when it appeared Iowa was back in contention, Travis Cobb ran the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.

“I’m not sure we got a hand on the returner,” Ferentz said

The Hawkeyes showed flaws in their coverage against Eastern Illinois and Iowa State, but Arizona exploited it for a momentum-shifting score

Iowa now ranks 116th nationally in kickoff coverage, out of 120 teams, allowing 30.9 yards per return

“At some point, we just have to do better,” Ferentz said. “I’d like to think we’re capable, and we’ve seen times when we are capable

“But if you don’t have consistency, it’s just not going to get it done.”

The Hawkeyes also failed to down a Donahue punt inside the 5-yard line, letting it bounce into the end zone

“We were nowhere to be seen on that one, either,” Ferentz said. “That kind of stuff is not as major, but those are things that win and lose for you.”

The most galling gaffe may have come when Binn’s interception tied the score at 27-27, but Trent Mossbrucker’s point-after kick was deflected.

“What do you want me to tell you,” Ferentz said, when asked what went wrong. “The (darn) ball got blocked. It’s not acceptable.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Andrew Logue: Andrew has been with the Des Moines Register for 19 years, covering everything from preps to Hawkeye and Cyclone sports, as well as the Drake Relays. View author profile.

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