September 14, 2014

It’s game day for Cyclones at the Hawkeyes

Iowa hosts Iowa State in the 62nd meeting in the series. The Cyclones are 0-2 but Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz expects to face the team that nearly beat Kansas State and not the one that dropped a lopsided encounter to North Dakota State. He says the two games were night and day different and the Cyclones have a history of getting better.

Iowa ditched the running game in a come from behind win over Ball State and Ferentz says the Hawkeyes would like to be more balanced. He says they will try to do whatever it takes to win. Since Iowa State end Iowa’s 15 game winning streak in 1998 the series has been more competitive and Ferentz expects nothing different on Saturday.

Iowa State would like to run the ball better but must find a way to block Iowa’s defensive line. “The front four is a great concern, but the entire defense is a concern for us,” Cyclone coach Paul Rhoads says. Rhoads says the defense is known for being sound and he says the Iowa offense will want to be physical.

Rhoads says Iowa quarterback Jake Ruddock showed how much he has improved by leading Iowa’s comeback victory last week. Iowa leads the all-time series 40-21 and the Hawkeyes have won four of the last six games.


Mount Vernon and Coe ready for oldest rivalry west of the Mississippi

The oldest rivalry west of the Mississippi is renewed on Saturday night in Mount Vernon as Cornell hosts Coe in a series that dates back to 1891. Coe opened a week ago with a loss to Wheaton College and has won the last 14 games in this series.

“Fortunately for us we’ve had the upper hand here and at some point in time the percentages catch up,” according to Coe coach Steve Staker who hopes having a game under their belt is an advantage. This will be the season opener for Cornell. He says if you’ve got good players and the coaches are coaching them up, then there should be good improvement after the first game and that could be important.

It will be the first night game at Cornell’s Ash Park Stadium and Staker says that will add to the atmosphere. Cornell comes into the season with high hopes after posting a 7-3 record in 2013, the programs first winning season since 2001. Rams coach Vince Brautigam says after not playing last week his team is eager for a game with the rivalry and a lot of new faces that will be in the lineup.

Brautigam says the series has been too lopsided to be considered a true rivalry. “To make it a rivalry again we’ve got to win Saturday night, to get the national attention that it should, because it is cool that we are the oldest rivalry in any division,” Brautigam says.


Iowa Conference meets Minnesota Conference Saturday in Waverly

The preseason favorite in the Iowa Conference race will play the preseason favorite in the Minnesota Conference in Waverly on Saturday when Wartburg hosts Bethel. The Knights opened the season with a 40-3 victory at Augsburg of Minnesota.

“This will be a great test, it should be a great small-college football game,”” Wartburg coach Rick Willis says. He says the team is excited by the opportunity to play the game.

While the Knights played last week this will be the season opener for Bethel. He says it is always good to get the first game out of the way and he hopes that works to their advantage, but Willis says Augsburg has an experienced team.

Wartburg is ranked 15th in division three and lost to seventh ranked Bethel in the playoffs last year. Willis says the defense needs to limit big plays by the Bethel offense. Willis says they are a physical team that runs the football and then the passing game comes off the run action. He says they’ve had trouble in the past giving up big plays agains them.


Council Bluffs St. Albert meets Logan-Magnolia in 1A football

A pair of ranked teams collide on Friday night in a class A district one opener as top ranked Council Bluffs St. Albert visits seven rated Logan-Magnolia. Both teams are 2-0 and Logan-Magnolia coach Matt Straight has several players back from last year’s team that missed the playoffs following a string of close losses. Straight says they are seniors now and they will see how much they have improved.

St. Albert lost 21 seniors off last year’s team but Straight says the cupboard is not bare as they are always talented and on film they look like the same team. Straight says the Panthers will know what their weaknesses are after tonight. “You always want to find our where you are at and how much you need to improve…we’re going to find out soon,” Straight says.

St. Albert coach Kevin Culjat says 11 seniors lead what is a young team. They only have 4 juniors and 4 sophomores and a lot of freshman, but he says he’s happy with the way they have come along since practice started.

Culjat says the Falcons will need to match the physical challenge that Logan-Magnolia will present. “They want to grind it out offensively and blitz like crazy on defense and fly around,” Culjat says. He says special teams will be a big key.

St. Albert’s non district wins have come against class 1A Treynor and class 4A Thomas Jefferson.


Iowa coach not confirming surgery for Scherff

Brandon Scherff (file photo)

Brandon Scherff (file photo)

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has not ruled senior tackle Brandon Scherff from this week’s matchup with Iowa State. KCRG TV reports Scherff underwent minor knee surgery that will keep him out a couple of weeks.

At his weekly news conference Ferentz refused to confirm that he had the procedure done. “He’s day-to-day right now, he was injured Saturday. We’ve got a couple of guys who are stiff and sore right now. We’ll see how it goes,” Ferentz says.

If Scherff can’t play redshirt freshman Ike Boettger will be the starter at left tackle. Ferentz says injuries are a part of football and the next guy has to go in and play and they have confidence in whoever comes in.

Ferentz did acknowledge that junior defensive end Drew Ott was injured in a moped accident. Ott did need stitches but Ferentz expects he will be ready by Saturday. “It’s a scary moment, we’ve had several players since I’ve been here that have been involved in those,” Ferentz says. “Fortunately, he’s doing well. Saw him this morning, he is sore.”

Ferentz says mopeds are popular with students because parking on campus is limited but they do not mandate that players where helmets. “We encourage it like many parents probably would,” Ferentz says. He says when he was growing up in Pennsylvania “back in the Dark Ages” they required people to wear helmets and that is something he says the state should consider.

Ferentz says injuries won’t change how they approach this game. “It’s just part of football. We’re not going to surrender if one guy goes down, or if five go down. We dodged a few raindrops in ’04, that one comes to mind real quickly where we got wiped out at the runningback position,” Ferentz says. “You find a way to win, you find a way to perform and that’s football, that’s the challenge of it.”

The Hawkeyes threw the ball 55 times in the victory over Ball State but Ferentz does not expect that to become the norm. He says if that happens it probably means they are losing, so he hopes that doesn’t happen. “We are not afraid to throw the ball, and I don’t think we’ve ever been afraid to throw it. It’s better to throw the ball when you feel like throwing it, and not just out of necessity,” Ferentz says.

The recent history of the Iowa/Iowa State series has featured close games and Ferentz expects this one to be no different. “It’s just kind of the nature of the series. It doesn’t seem to matter where you play the game, it doesn’t seem to be a big factor. It really comes down to which team plays best on Saturday and that’s the challenge that’s in front of both of us,” Ferentz says.

Rhoads says Cyclones will have to improve more to compete with Iowa

Paul Rhoads

Paul Rhoads

Iowa State is still without a win but coach Paul Rhoads says his team is much more confident as they prepare for the 62nd meeting with the Iowa Hawkeyes. After a disappointing effort in a lopsided loss to North Dakota State the Cyclones bounced back with a near upset of 20th ranked Kansas State.

“With that improvement, even in a loss, you’ll go into this week with more confidence as players and more credibility if you will as coaches,” Rhoads says. He says the players followed the plan and saw the improvement.

ISU had a much better showing on offense last week but the Cyclones still have not scored in the second half of a game. Rhoads says it’s not all about adjustments, it’s about execution and being in poor field position, which they’ve had in the second half of both games. He says they got some first downs against Kansas State, but the drives stalled out.

Rhoads says junior quarterback Sam Richardson has made big strides this season and now the chore will be to handle the hostile environment of Kinnick Stadium. “The good thing is Sam has been on the road, he’s been in hostile conditions and so that’s not going to be anything that’s a surprise to him or new to him,” Rhoads says. He says they’ll have to prepare in practice this week overall as an offense for the noise.

Rhoads says the ISU run game still needs more work and while blocking is part of it the running backs also need to do a better job of making defenders miss.

Rhoads says the Iowa game is not just another non conference matchup. “Rivalry games are special. The fact that I’m an instate guy along with a lot our players probably makes it more important to them. But it doesn’t take long to be a part of the culture and part of the program to understand the importance of this game,” according to Rhoads.

Rhoads says his favorite Cy-Hawk memory is ending Iowa’s 15-game winning streak in the series when he was a member of Dan McCarney’s staff as he says that made it a rivalry again. “I think growing up, it’s just how this state responds to this week and this game. It doesn’t matter what part of the state you are in, you are either at the stadium or at a party with all eyes on the game. That’s a pretty neat deal to feel and be a part of,” Rhoads says.

Rhoads says he does not get caught up in the build up to the game. “I don’t pay attention to the hype in years past, or currently or so forth,” Rhoads says. “It’s our next game, it happens to be against our instate rival. They are a very good football team that’s undefeated and on the brink of being ranked in nation’s the top 25. We played poorly in week 1, played a lot better in week 2 and are going to have to play a lot better in week 3 to be able to compete and that’s where my focus is.”


Iowa survives Ball State, looks to ISU game

The countdown to kickoff of the 62nd meeting between Iowa and Iowa State is underway. The Cyclones come into the game at 0-2. Iowa is 2-0 after rallying for a win over Ball State, but the offense spent most of the game showing why ticket sales have been so slow. A fumble was responsible for Ball State’s only touchdown, a fumbled kickoff return led to a field goal and there were three missed field goals from short range.

In the end, two Jake Ruddock scoring pases in the final three minutes rescued the Hawks from another embarrassing loss to a MAC team.

Iowa has a commanding lead in the all time series against ISU and a win on Saturday would be their fifth in the last seven games.