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Home / Hawkeyes at boiling point
Twice last week, John Lowdermilk threw his arms down in frustration and yelled at a teammate. It happens, it probably happens a lot more than we know. It was strange to see it, but, given the total-team heart attack that was going on around them, it was understandable.
First time it was in the end zone and Minnesota connected for a TD pass between him and freshman linebacker Josey Jewell. Another time, it was Lowdermilk let the frustration come out against linebacker Bo Bower.
With some time behind him and the brutal 51-14 beating at Minnesota, Lowdermilk should he was wrong and he shouldn't have done that.
'It was just frustration and I think everyone was frustrated,” the senior strong safety said. 'That's not how we play, everybody knows that. I have to keep my cool out there. It was frustration, that's all it was.
'It's a competitive game. It just sucks because you put so much effort into it and so much work into it during the week every single week. When you get beat, when you get embarrassed, it just hurts really bad, because you know how hard you work, how much time you put into it. And it just sucks.”
The Minnesota loss fell like a guillotine, a three-hour guillotine. We saw Lowdermilk get into some scream therapy on the field with some teammates. Let's not be naive. No way he was the only one. If head coach Kirk Ferentz bit any farther into his lip in the postgame, he would've severed a carotid artery.
'I'd be really unhappy if guys were happy,” Ferentz said. 'If everything was rosy, rosy and tidy, that would be a bad thing. Or if it didn't hurt guys or they bounced back quick. There are lot of guys in the NFL that bounce back real quick, and that's not a good, to me not a good characteristic to possess if you're a competitor.”
The easy thing would be to lose it. Go into the locker room or team meeting and unload, as a coach or a player. Certainly, there was some of that, but there also has to be measure and it has to be constructive.
Iowa (6-3, 3-2 Big Ten) takes the Memorial Stadium field today against Illinois (4-5, 1-4). The Fighting Illini have to win two of their next three to get to a bowl and, perhaps, save coach Tim Beckman's job.
As bad as last week was, Iowa can still have a say in the Big Ten West Division. The easy thing to do after last week's disaster would be to lash out and boil over with frustration and anger. With three games left and the ultimate success of the 2014 still on the table, would that be the right note?
The football biological clock is running out for Iowa's seniors. Here are their thoughts on the balance between crawling out of the rubble that was Minnesota and keeping their minds in the game.
Keep in mind, this is high-level football. These guys know a phony when they see it.
'I think that's the last thing we need right now,” senior wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley said when asked about seniors raining fire and brimstone, end-of-times speeches. 'I think that would divide people more than anything. I think if you tried to change up your approach, people will see right through that. Positive encouragement is needed right now.”
We as outsiders probably overrate the 'scream” nature of football. Iowa didn't ceremonially burn the game film from Minnesota. It clinically went over it, as per usual, and gleaned knowledge and focused on the fixes. The yell stuff doesn't block and doesn't tackle.
'The leaders who speak up, people value what they say no matter how they say it,” senior offensive tackle Andrew Donnal said. 'Whether they just nonchalantly come across and say what they have to say or if they get up in your face and say it aggressively, if that's a respected teammate and they have the team behind them no matter how they present themselves, people will listen to them no matter how they present themselves.”
Of course, all teams have a mix of leaders who go by example and, as Donnal puts it, 'we do have guys who do light fires under our butts and get after us a little bit.”
Senior tight end Ray Hamilton has three games left as a Hawkeye. He doesn't plan on going silently into the night.
'I'm a guy who calls it like he sees it,” the senior from Strongsville, Ohio, said. 'I'm not too worried about peoples' feelings on this level of football. You want to be a good person at the end of the day. That's important. You want to maintain your integrity and the characteristics you grew up with, that coach Ferentz preaches to us and continue to be a good guy, but at the end of the day, this is essentially a job that we take a huge amount of pride in.
'We're going to be passionate about it. We have other leaders on this team who are passionate about it. You've got to be vocal. In order to be vocal, you have to look in the mirror first. Clearly, I didn't do enough last week. You need to take responsibility for your actions before you start calling people out. Everyone needs to pick it up, we know that, we've voiced that.
' ... Let's fight this out as a group and let's just keep swinging. You've got to have a fighter's mentality and you've got to love throwing punches.”
Speaking of which, no, it didn't turn out that way with Lowdermilk and his teammates. He also didn't apologize. This isn't metro youth football. When these players step on the field, they know there's a high degree of accountability. It's part of the deal.
Ferentz said on his radio show Wednesday that the team does have a sport psychologist available, but, no, it's not a team-wide thing and, no, he has no plans to explore that.
'There was nothing that needed to be said,” Lowdermilk said. 'Everyone gets mad, everyone yells at each other. Once the game is over, it's over. Everybody's friends, everyone loves each other. We're all brothers.
'I don't think you really need to say, ‘Oh, I'm sorry for yelling at you.' Everybody's competitive, everyone understands that fire you need.”
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