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As Marvin “Shake” Tiller once told Billy Clyde Puckett, nobody ever said it wasn’t gonna be semi-tough.
The New York Giants of Shake and Billy Clyde persevered and beat the New York Jets in the Super Bowl in Dan Jenkins’ “Semi-Tough.” Saturday, Iowa persevered and beat Rutgers Saturday not far from the home of the Giants and Jets.
Easy? This? Uh, no. Iowa again got outgained, again gave up a lot of rushing yards, and again stalled offensively after coming out in the second half with a 7-point lead just like they did against North Dakota State the week before.
But Brandon Snyder stripped Rutgers of the football and fell on it at the Rutgers 21 midway through the fourth quarter of a 7-7 game, and Akrum Wadley scored on a 26-yard run almost immediately after a harmless 5-yard penalty.
That was the scoring for the day. It was no prettier than what you see from your window as your descending toward Newark’s airport, but it was a win.
The Set Up — Rutgers had just put together its longest drive of the season (13 plays and 88 yards) to tie the game 7-7 with 12:45 left in the third quarter. Iowa’s offense followed up with its second consecutive three-and-out and its fourth consecutive punt. No, the Hawkeyes’ offense wasn’t exactly setting High Point Solutions Stadium on fire. Nope. Not even close.
It needed something and it got a play out of the defense.
What happened — On third-and-16, Rutgers QB Chris Laviano hit wide receiver Andre Patton for a short gain in front of strong safety Brandon Snyder. Snyder close hard on the underneath route. He said he thought he could beat the ball there, but then switched to tackle mode at the last minute.
“I ended up not being able to get there and held him up and tried to hold him up and get the ball out,” Snyder said. “We went into the drive saying we needed to get the ball back, we needed to get the offense the ball back in good field position. I got it out and jumped on it. It was just what we needed in the game.”
Snyder did get it out and did jump on it. First down Iowa at Rutgers’ 21.
The Result — Snyder and the defense set up the offense with golden field position (Iowa’s average field position in the first half was its 13).
On first down, it looked like this drive might go the way a lot of Iowa drives went Saturday, with a false start called on OT Ike Boettger. That was OK. Iowa lived through it this time when RB Akrum Wadley, a New Jersey native, took an outside zone play around the left side, tiptoed up the sideline and scored in front of family and friends.
This was an alley oop the defense and Snyder set up for the offense and Wadley.
B In his postgame interview, QB C.J. Beathard used “shooting ourselves in the foot” way too many times. Giant squids don’t have that many feet. — Marc Morehouse
B Hey, winning in New Jersey isn’t easy. If you don’t believe it, ask Rutgers. — Mike Hlas
0 — Iowa played its third turnover-free game in four outings.
4 — Ron Coluzzi of the Hawkeyes placed four punts inside the Rutgers 20-yard line, didn’t have a touchback, and still averaged 42 yards for seven punts. He has been terrific through the first one-third of the season.
15 — Iowa got a 15-yard penalty in the second quarter for sideline interference. You don’t see that one every week.
78 — The Hawkeyes haven’t shut out an opponent in their last 78 games. It looked possible for a long while here, but Rutgers broke through with 12:45 left in the game. Iowa’s last shutout was 45-0 over Ball State in 2010.
99 — The Hawkeyes’ 99-yard touchdown drive late in the first half was their second 99-yard drive in two years with quarterback C.J. Beathard. Iowa went that distance in their season-opener last year against Illinois State. Before that, the Hawkeyes’ last 99-yard march was in 2002 against Miami (Ohio).
193 — Both teams rushed for 193 yards.
239 — Iowa’s 239 first-half yards surpassed its entire total the week before against North Dakota State when it got 231.
Iowa center James Daniels and guard Sean Welsh were back in the starting lineup after missing two games and one, respectively.
For the second-straight week, running back Derrick Mitchell missed the game with a leg injury, as had been indicated earlier in the week.
But it didn’t look like the Hawkeyes added anyone to the injured list Saturday.
This game’s big injury, a very big one, was when Rutgers receiver Janarion Grant left the game with an ankle injury following a 76-yard catch-and-go play that was whiff city for Hawkeye defenders. Grant was the only Knight to catch a first-half pass (he had five receptions), and his skills as a kick-returner were suddenly unavailable, too.
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz wasn’t mad at anyone in particular, but he did begin his postgame with a semi-rant on the illegal block below the waist penalty that wiped out a TD run on Iowa’s first play of the second half.
No yelling or screaming, but Ferentz went through the pleasantries and then made his point before taking questions.
His point was directed toward the rule changes made with cut blocking. Boettger appeared to execute a cut block on an RU defensive tackle Darius Hamilton, diving at his knees while a LeShun Daniels run flowed to the left. For the second straight week, Daniels hit a big run on Iowa’s first play of the second half only to have it nullified by a penalty. This one wiped out a 75-yard TD and a 14-0 Iowa lead.
“They’ve altered the rules (nationally) and I’m really befuddled as to why,” Ferentz said. “My concern is it’s been four different weeks with four different interpretations on a rule. It impacts the game, or it potentially could and it certainly did today on the first play of the second half.”
Ferentz criticized the rules, not the officials. “We’ve created a set of rules that are really hard to understand. I can tell you I don’t understand them ... That’s not the story of this game, but it’s been kind of building with me a little bit.”
Instead of a TD, Iowa had a drive go dead at Rutgers’ 41.
What did the officials tell Iowa’s O-linemen?
“They called it a clip and what they said was Ike didn’t get all the way in front of the guy,” tackle Cole Croston said. “They said he caught him from behind, so that’s why they called it.”
Guard Sean Welsh said the rule is “10 to 2” as far as how a cut block needs to be targeted. Basically, referees believed Boettger needed to take a few more steps and get in front of the defender.
The “why isn’t Desmond King captain” question has been answered.
The leadership group voted senior running back LeShun Daniels as captain this week. The 16-member group actually writes names on a piece of paper and places votes. Daniels edged out King this week. It was the first change in captains Iowa’s had since maybe 2009 (HawkeyeReport.com went that far).
No controversy here. King was totally cool with this.
“We all felt like LeShun has been doing his part on and off the field,” King said. “He’s been doing a great job and we decided it was his turn this week.”
So, stand down. Nothing to see here. As Ferentz said when he announced captains, no story here.
Kinnick Stadium’s seating capacity will drop a little bit.
The north end zone renovation project that will reduce the capacity from 70,585 to just over 70,000, Iowa deputy athletic director Gene Taylor said. The project has no timeline set and will be presented to the state’s Board of Regents for approval in October.
The seating area will include new club seats and loges. Barta said the project will exceed the $75 million estimate given in June.
Here’s a link to The Gazette’s June report on the project.
Many former Hawkeye players were in attendance. Included were Pat Dean, Brad Quast and Dwayne Williams.
Lou King, who played cornerback for Iowa’s 1981 Big Ten champions, was here. He is from Jersey City and now lives in Columbus, N.J.
Before there was Desmond King, there was Lou King. He had 10 career interceptions, eight in the 1981 season. Desmond has 11 in his career after picking off eight passes last year.
The announced attendance was 44,061. Apparently, many people who bought tickets didn’t use them. There were plenty of empty seats.
“They hate 12 o’clock games,” said Ed Dawson of Cedar Rapids. “This is their third in a row.”
Dawson and his pal, Michael Ball of Allison, Iowa, have now seen all the Big Ten has to offer, football-wise. Ball said he’s been to 164 of the Hawkeyes’ last 165 games, missing only the 2003 Outback Bowl.
Dedication, that is.
“I left Allison at 5 a.m., Friday,” Ball said. “We drove 15 hours to Bloomsburg, Pa., and got up at 5:30 Easter time today and drove two hours and 20 minutes to get here. I’ll drive to Bloomsburg tonight, and get back home Sunday. It’s back to work on Monday.”
Rutgers fans were friendly, they said, but “It seems like they’re slow getting going here (tailgating-wise),” Ball noted.
The main Rutgers campus is in New Brunswick. It’s a long walk for students, and the majority take buses here. Which doesn’t lend itself to a swarm of people here at the hour Ball and Dawson arrived.
Does Rutgers feel like the Big Ten?
“Not quite yet,” Ball said.
Iowa hosts Northwestern Saturday at 11 a.m. The Wildcats began Big Ten play at home Saturday night against Nebraska. The two teams were a combined 22-5 last season.