Iowa football working through frustration of last few weeks

Hawkeyes just as, if not more frustrated about games following Ohio State win than fans watching

Iowa football head coach Kirk Ferentz. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Iowa football head coach Kirk Ferentz. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The Hawkeyes get that you’re frustrated.

Truth be told, the things fans and followers of the Iowa football team have verbalized — on call-in shows, through email, Twitter and Facebook — are probably, in some form or another, running through the minds of the players and coaches who live what people are watching.

Coach Kirk Ferentz has a 24-hour rule instituted for his team that’s been written and talked about before. The team has 24 hours after a game to enjoy or lament and put whatever happened, good or bad, behind them.

The last two weeks haven’t been fun for anyone, on or off the field. It makes those 24 hours harder to contain to just 24.

“What I’m doing is not very — it’s pretty nondescript (in the 24 hours after a loss),” Ferentz said Tuesday. “What I’m thinking, you don’t want to know. We all have dark moments, right? It’s usually always the worst after anything doesn’t go well.

“And so, your mind goes all over the place. You think about a lot of different things, and you just try to sift through things and work on them a little bit and most important thing is when you come in on Sunday, you’ve got to have your thoughts somewhat in order and that’s part of the process during the course of the day, too. But to think that you just shake it off and, hey, tomorrow is a new day, it’s not quite that easy.”

The Iowa players aren’t allowed to use Twitter during their time as a member of the team, which is probably for the best in the context of the last few weeks.

Every coach has a different way of approaching that, of course, but if nothing else, the players haven’t had to listen to the badgering on what they already know: that it’s been a bad few weeks, that it’s particularly frustrating in the wake of beating Ohio State and that it needs to get fixed.

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Defensive end Anthony Nelson said Tuesday he hasn’t heard much from outsiders, and that it’s pretty rare for someone out in the world to approach a player with a concern. The conversations among teammates aren’t constantly downtrodden or cloaked in a sense of dread.

Still, it’s a challenge sometimes to calm themselves down.

“A lot of guys and myself are really competitive, and you get worked up,” Nelson said. “I try to relax, calm myself down and then watch film to kind of relax myself and pick out the things I can correct. You can’t change things that have already happened.

“That’s always the difficult part, trying to balance being too frustrated and overthinking things, but using the frustration to help you. It goes by person and coaches, and understanding that things that happened in the game aren’t personal. You’ve got to focus on things you can improve.”

Starting center James Daniels hit the trifecta Tuesday in discussing what needs to change to cure the frustration. Avoiding mental errors, having technique and sticking to fundamentals is a Ferentzian answer, but it’s one every Hawkeye is going to give you if you ask them.

Sometimes the answer isn’t more complicated than that, even if it prompts the follow-up question of why mental errors and bad technique happen.

“We expect a lot,” Daniels said. “I’m pretty sure we expect a lot more than the fans expect. When we’re not playing that level of football, it’s very frustrating.”

Read more: Is a noted lack of enthusiasm on the sideline a cause for concern?

 

Defensive end Parker Hesse said the Iowa football team isn’t hiding from the last two weeks — or any other part of this season that hasn’t been what they’ve wanted. In many cases, the players and coaches are just as confused as to why execution has varied.

Ultimately, the guys wearing the uniform want to fix it worse than the ones watching.

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“(We are) guys who take ownership and are pretty in-tune and smart about the process of a football season,” Hesse said. “This is what we do. This is more or less our livelihood right now. When things aren’t going your way, it’s obviously frustrating. No one wants to be in this position, but we can’t let it affect going forward.

“We’re going to do the things we do every week, but we’re going to do them to (our) standard.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8884; jeremiah.davis@thegazette.com

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