IOWA CITY, Ia. – Hawkeyes columnist Rick Brown will offer five quick-hit talking points from each Iowa football news conference of the season.
Here’s the early buzz before Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. kickoff against Ball State:
THE SHORT STUFF: Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said the short passing game used against Northern Iowa was a result of the way the Panthers played defense in the season opener, more than a reflection of the Hawkeyes’ offensive gameplan.
“That’s how they’re built,” Ferentz said of the Panthers. “They’re a deep zone team. Typically, their style is to make you earn it and work for it. It’s a good defensive strategy.”
Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock completed 31 of 41 passes in the 31-23 victory. Most of those completions came on short routes.
“We didn’t expect many deep shots down the field,” Ferentz said.
Ferentz said using weapons such as Damond Powell, Tevaun Smith and Derrick Willies to stretch the field is a work in progress.
“I think that will come,” Ferentz said.
A DIFFERENT BALL STATE: Iowa has defeated Ball State by a combined 101-0 score in two previous meetings, in 2005 and 2010.
“We played them a couple of times when they were down,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Brady Hoke (now at Michigan) built it into an outstanding program during his time there, and coach (Pete) Lembo has come in and done a wonderful job, too. They’ve won 17 of their last 19 regularly-scheduled ballgames.”
The Cardinals, who have played in bowl games the past two seasons, opened with a 30-10 victory against Colgate. Horactio Banks (134 yards) and Jahwan Edwards (109) both went over 100 yards. Receiver Kevonn Mabon, who sat out last season with an injury, had 11 catches for 110 yards.
“They’re balanced offensively,” Ferentz said. “They run the ball extremely well, with over 300 yards rushing. They had a couple of hundred throwing it. It’s a well-conceived offensive scheme. And they make you defend in all regards. They’re an aggressive defensive team.”
JEWELL TIMELINE: Freshman linebacker Josey Jewell will miss his second straight game with a broken hand suffered in practice Aug. 27.
“Hopefully we’ll get him back a week from now,” Ferentz said.
NO KEVONTE: Kevonte Martin-Manley returned punts for Iowa last season, including two for touchdowns against Western Michigan. He averaged 15.7 yards on 20 returns in 2013. But it was Matt VandeBerg returning punts in last week’s season opener.
“We felt like it was the best thing for our football team,” Ferentz said. “It’s not a knock on Kevonte. He played an excellent game, maybe as well as he played. We based it on practice. Matt did a better job in practice.”
Martin-Manley, a senior and Iowa’s starting wide receiver, had a team-high eight receptions against the Panthers. That was one shy of his career high against Northern Illinois in the 2013 season opener. VandeBerg returned two punts for 32 yards. Ferentz said that Riley McCarron, who is out with a shoulder injury suffered in a public scrimmage Aug. 16, will compete with VandeBerg for punt return duties when he is cleared to play again.
Martin-Manley said he enjoys returning punts, and will work to improve on that aspect of his game in practice. But he said he was too concerned with the job at hand to miss specialist duties.
“I was focused on what I had to do, not what I didn’t have to do,” Martin-Manley said.
TWO-QB THREAD: The talk of sneaking quarterback C.J. Beathard into the game as a change-up to Jake Rudock remains on the drawing board. It didn’t happen against Northern Iowa.
“When it happens, it will happen,” Ferentz said. “No knock on (Beathard). We’ll figure that out.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football