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Hawkeye lineman Conor Boffeli relives ‘oops’ moment

[ 0 ] November 6, 2013 |

IOWA CITY, Ia. — An offensive lineman toils in relative obscurity. His blocks rarely get noticed as fans follow the ball on any given Saturday.

Valley graduate Conor Boffeli (59), blocking for quarterback Jake Rudock vs. Missouri State, got his first college start a year ago against Purdue. (Bryon Houlgrave/The Des Moines Register)

Valley graduate Conor Boffeli (59), blocking for quarterback Jake Rudock vs. Missouri State, got his first college start a year ago against Purdue. (Bryon Houlgrave/The Des Moines Register)

But there are oops moments, when a lineman stands out for the wrong reasons. Conor Boffeli had an oops moment two weeks ago against Northwestern.

Iowa had the ball on a third-and-2 play from the Wildcats’ 3 in overtime. An inside zone running play had been called.

“Right up the middle,” said Boffeli, the Hawkeyes’ starting left offensive guard. “Myself and the offensive line, we were going to pretty much determine if we got it in the end zone or not.”

But Boffeli jumped a second too soon, a false start that put Iowa’s drive in jeopardy. Boffeli was bailed out when quarterback Jake Rudock threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Fiedorowicz on the next play.

“I was just a little anxious,” said Boffeli, a former West Des Moines Valley standout. “I was ready to launch off the ball. I thought I heard something I didn’t hear. I just took off a count too early.”

What looked like another lost red zone opportunity was salvaged when Rudock found Fiedorowicz in the face of a Wildcat blitz. Iowa won the game, 17-10. And Boffeli was relieved.

“Luckily, I was bailed out,” Boffeli said. “You just have to be perfect down there.”

Converting more drives for touchdowns in the red zone is one area Iowa will try to improve upon Saturday at Purdue. The Hawkeyes have scored just 16 touchdowns in 35 trips to the red zone this season.

“Obviously, I wish we were playing a little better,” Boffeli said. “It feels like we’re close. We’re playing hard, and playing physical. It’s just some of the details that we’re a little off on.”

Boffeli’s jump at crunch time against Northwestern is one of the details he speaks of. But he doesn’t stand alone. Last week, Andrew Donnal had a false start on a third-and-goal play from the Wisconsin 3. Iowa settled for a Mike Meyer second-quarter field goal.

Boffeli had his first career start against Purdue last season. Iowa’s offensive line had been turned upside-down when Brandon Scherff and Andrew Donnal were injured and lost for the season against Penn State on Oct. 20.

Boffeli was competing with Nolan McMillan for the starting left guard spot the week of the Purdue game. McMillan was injured in practice. Boffeli won the job, and had a sleepless night before his first career college start.

“I just attribute that to first-time jitters,” said Boffeli, who previous start was in Valley’s 27-8 victory over Cedar Falls in the 2008 Class 4-A title game. “I really had no idea what to expect starting, so I wasn’t entirely confident in what was going to happen. Now that I’ve had a few more starts, it’s a little easier.”

Boffeli has started every game for the Hawkeyes this season. Iowa, 2-3 in the Big Ten and 5-4 overall, can become bowl eligible with a victory at Purdue.

“Just getting our next win here is more on our minds than actually becoming bowl eligible,” Boffeli said.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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