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More questions than answers for Hawkeyes

[ 0 ] November 11, 2012 |

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Micah Hyde can’t figure it out.

Iowa’s starting cornerback claims the Hawkeyes practice well each week, but then for some reason they leave that intensity somewhere between the practice field and wherever they’re playing.

He mentioned it after a loss against Northwestern. He said it after the Penn State defeat. He said it again after Saturday’s 27-24 loss against Purdue at Kinnick Stadium that went a long way in potentially eliminating Iowa from bowl contention heading into Saturday’s 11 a.m. game at Michigan.

“We prepared well,” said Hyde, one of the few bright spots for a team that lost its fourth Big Ten Conference game in a row. “We practiced well.

“When we came out, they were tougher than us. They ran the ball down our throat. We were missing tackles. They were more physical.”

Iowa built a reputation of being more physical than most of its opponents. Past Hawkeye teams were known to strike first, not counter punch.

It didn’t happen Saturday against a team that had a five-game losing streak during which it was outscored 106-40 in the first half.

“I don’t know why we weren’t ready to go,” Hyde said. “We’ve got to change that up.”

Ten games into the season, and Iowa finds itself still trying to clean up its football act. If it’s bad offense, it’s a giving defense — the past four opponents have averaged 475 yards. It’s often both.

“We had guys bouncing off their guys,” defensive tackle Steve Bigach said. “It’s a fundamental part of football — you’re not going to win if you don’t block the point of attack on offense and if you don’t tackle the football on defense.”

Ten games into the season, and the 4-6 Hawkeyes are still trying to reach the minimum six-game bowl requirement — with Saturday’s game against the 7-3 Wolverines, and a Nov. 23 home date against 8-2 Nebraska still out there.

“We work hard,” said receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley, who like Hyde is uncertain why Iowa is facing the prospect of its first losing regular-season record since going 3-9 in 2000, coach Kirk Ferentz’s second season at the school.

That’s also the last time, before this season, that Iowa has lost four home games.

“Everyone’s down,” Bigach said Saturday of the mindset inside the locker room. “It’s an atmosphere you don’t want to be a part of. It’s extremely frustrating. Everyone’s down, but we have to keep our heads up.”

Ten games into the season, and the passing game is still looking for solutions.

Quarterback James Vandenberg increased his touchdown pass total to five Saturday, but he’s still 20 shy of reaching last season’s total.

Ten games into the season, and the Hawkeyes still haven’t figured out how to mentally prepare for the start of a game.

They’ve been outscored 38-20 in first quarters against Big Ten Conference opponents, and 72-51 during first halves.

“Look at the first half, and parts of the second,” Bigach said Saturday. “We weren’t playing hard enough, and everybody feels the same way.

“When you invest in something — when you put everything you’ve got into it — and when you lose, it’s gut-wrenching.

“We have to play better. We have to stop talking about it. We have to do it.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Randy Peterson: Randy Peterson covers college football, college basketball and the Iowa Cubs for the Des Moines Register. Randy can be reached at randypeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter via @RandyPete View author profile.

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