Play of the Game: Hawkeyes not fooled by fake punt

Base defense on the field, Iowa sniffs it out

Iowa Hawkeyes defensive lineman Drew Ott (95) and linebacker Christian Kirksey (20) stone Nebraska punter Sam Foltz (27)
Iowa Hawkeyes defensive lineman Drew Ott (95) and linebacker Christian Kirksey (20) stone Nebraska punter Sam Foltz (27) short of a first down after the Cornhuskers attempted a fake punt on a fourth down in the third quarter at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska on Friday, November 29, 2013. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette-KCRG TV9)

  • TIME: 5:01, third quarter
  •  SCORE: Iowa, 17-10
  • DOWN AND DISTANCE: Nebraska faced fourth-and-3 at its 32-yard line
  • FORMATION AND PERSONNEL: Punt units on the field. Then Iowa called a timeout and pretty much sent its base defense (defensive linemen Drew Ott, Darian Cooper, Louis Trinca-Pasat and Mike Hardy, linebackers James Morris, Christian Kirksey and Anthony Hitchens and cornerbacks B.J. Lowery and Desmond King) on the field with returners Kevonte Martin-Manley and Riley McCarron.
  • WHAT HAPPENED: Sam Foltz took the snap, hesitated and then ran to his right. The Iowa defense was prepared; Kirksey beat the block of Brodrick Nickens and tackled Foltz at the 24-yard line for an 8-yard loss.
  • WHY IT WAS IMPORTANT: The Hawkeyes scored on the next play when Jake Rudock hit Martin-Manley in the end zone for a 24-10 lead. Just as important, it was a bit of redemption for a team that has been burned numerous times on fake kicks the last several seasons.
  • THE QUOTE 1: “We thought it was there. We missed a block,” Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini said. “We liked the look they were in and we whiffed on a block, the most important block. We took a chance and it didn’t work out. It’s my fault.”
  • THE QUOTE 2: “Coach told us the punter is a receiver and he’s pretty fast and when he rolls out like that go contain and that’s what we did,” Kirksey said. “I was surprised (they still ran the fake) after our defense came back out there.”
  • THE QUOTE 3: “When your defense makes a big play and gives you good field position, you have to capitalize on plays like that for the psyche of our team,” Martin-Manley said. “We were ready to do that right after that fake punt.”
  • THE ANALYSIS: One wonders why Nebraska went with the fake even after Iowa put its base defense on the field. Iowa had called the timeout to see if the review official would take a look at the third-down play. As soon as Foltz got the snap and looked right, he should have seen the Iowa defense already waiting for a possible fake — Ott also was waiting for the punter after Givens Price missed his block — and punted the ball away. Then again, Foltz is a red-shirt freshman and was not about to go over the coaching staff’s head.

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