powered by the Iowa City Press-Citizen & The Des Moines Register
Subscribe via RSS Feed

Harty: Hawkeye woes more than just lost personnel

[ 26 ] November 20, 2010 |

The Iowa football team isn’t finding new ways to lose close games. It’s just perfecting the same frustrating method by doing it over and over.

A broken season has now become a broken record with Saturday’s 20-17 loss to Ohio State at Kinnick Stadium being Iowa’s latest fourth quarter collapse.

Now the question is why?

How does a team filled with veteran players that were so used to winning close games last season suddenly lose that mental and physical edge down the stretch?

“Last year we were able to execute enough to get ourselves over that hump in most of those close games,” said Iowa senior offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde. “But this year we just haven’t executed quite well enough.”

OK, if it comes down to just executing than why have the Iowa players and coaches suddenly lost the ability to do it?

It just shows that no two teams are alike, even if they have many of the same players on the roster.

The 2010 Hawkeyes are just as talented as last year’s Iowa team that had finished 11-2 overall and had a knack for winning close games. They just don’t seem to have the same mental toughness or moxie that fueled Iowa last season.

You can blame part of it on luck because the ball bounces more favorably for some teams than it does for others.

Iowa was a good football team last season, but also a lucky one at times.

So perhaps this year’s team is being victimized by the law of averages, sort of like a what-goes-around-comes-around type of thing.

You can attribute part of Iowa’s problem to the loss of key players such as linebackers Pat Angerer and A.J. Edds and cornerback Amari Spievey, but there is more to it than that. What’s ailing this team isn’t just a lack of personnel at certain positions.

It’s a mindset that has been allowed to fester.

The script has been almost identical in each of Iowa’s four losses this season. The Hawkeyes were in position to win each game only to unravel in the fourth quarter on both offense and defense.

You can’t blame it on where the games were played because it’s now happened twice on the road and twice at home this season.

You also can’t blame it on the opponent being superior to Iowa, because no offense to Arizona, Wisconsin or Northwestern, Ohio State is the only one among those four teams that has defeated Iowa that can make that claim.

“That’s what happens when you’re in tight ballgames,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said when asked to explain why his team can’t finish anymore. “It’s going to go back and forth, typically.

“And we didn’t make enough plays to get it done today in the fourth quarter.”

You could feel this loss coming after Ohio State made a field-goal midway through the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 17-13 and then forced Iowa into a three-and-out on its next offensive possession.

There was hope momentarily after Ohio State receiver DeVier Posey did his best Damarlo Belcher impersonation by dropping a touchdown pass in the end zone.

But then Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor crushed that hope by doing his best Dan Persa impersonation while scrambling for 14 yards on 4th-and-10 to the Iowa 36-yard line.

“I don’t know how many guys in the conference or the country could have made that play,” Ferentz said.

At that point you knew Iowa was doomed because you assumed that Pryor and his cohorts wouldn’t be denied.

Ohio State scored the go-ahead touchdown five plays later and with less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Hope then rested on Iowa’s ability to run its two-minute offense, meaning there was little to no hope at that stage.

It seemed fitting that Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi got sacked for a significant loss on his team’s final drive because the same thing happened in the losses to Arizona, Wisconsin and Northwestern.

Stanzi should know at this stage in his career that he can’t afford to be sacked in those situations.

Actually, he does know it. He just hasn’t been able to stop it from happening.

Now the challenge is to stop the Ohio State loss from becoming another one, because you can assume that Minnesota, despite all of its problems this season, won’t be intimidated by Iowa next week.

The Gophers should make it their goal to be within striking distance in the fourth quarter. That seems to bring out the worst in this Iowa team.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Hawk Central: Hawk Central is a joint operation of the Iowa City Press-Citizen and The Des Moines Register, with offices in Iowa City. Contact us at online@press-citizen.com. View author profile.

Comments closed