IOWA CITY – A few softly spoken words helped Mike Meyer achieve booming results.
The senior kicker pumped up Iowa’s special teams last weekend by launching footballs into the end zone, nullifying Northern Illinois’ hopes for a return.
“I just told myself to stay calm, nice and easy,” Meyer recalled, “just focused on the foot-to-ball contact.
“It felt good.”
It was a feel-good performance, in an otherwise dreary 30-27 defeat.
Meyer recorded touchbacks on five of six kickoffs, and made both his field goal attempts.
Last season, the Dubuque native recorded touchbacks on just 21 of 51 attempts (41.2 percent).
“(Meyer) was just wired,” coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He kicked the ball well on kickoffs and pretty much everything he did was right the way you want it.”
Was it the adrenaline of a season-opening game, or technique?
“I’ve been trying to work on them throughout my career,” Meyer said. “Kind of driving it a little more, into and with the wind.”
Meyer’s power display bolstered Iowa’s already solid coverage units, which led the Big Ten Conference in 2012 by holding opponents to an average of 19.4 yards per return.
The Huskies’ lone attempt netted just 20 yards. Their average drive, including those following punts and turnovers, started at the 30-yard line.
Meyer found his groove as a place kicker years ago. He’s converted 47 of 60 field goals in his career (78.3 percent) and 103-of-105 point-after kicks.
Saturday, when Iowa began a late drive at its own 45-yard line, Meyer began preparing himself for a potential game-winning field goal.
“At that point, I was ready for it to happen,” he said. “I’m just going to stay ready for when that happens.”
Meyer was gauging the wind, and would have felt comfortable once the Hawkeye reached the 35-yard line.
His longest field goal successes have come from 50 yards out.
“In certain situations, it doesn’t matter where the ball is,” Meyer said. “You’ve just got to be ready to kick it.”
The Hawkeyes’ special teams will have some tweaking to do before hosting Missouri State this Saturday.
When Northern Illinois kicked off, Iowa returner Jordan Cotton passed on chances to down the ball in the end zone.
That contributed to Iowa beginning three drives inside its own 20-yard line.
“I’m just trying to make a play there,” said Cotton, who finished with 48 yards on three returns, “but I’ve got to be smarter on that.”
Ferentz talked about the need for better decision making, but stopped short of setting limits.
“Things can always be better, and I think some of those are pretty obvious,” he said. “Yeah, we give them a rule, as far as line of demarcation, but that’s assuming, too, that you’re catching a ball and running forward.
“If you’re making a Willie Mays catch to field the ball, then it might not be the best thing to try.”
Ferentz then offered encouraging words, regarding Cotton.
“That happens in first games,” he said. “(Cotton) will bounce back. He’s a really good football player.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football