KF143 numbers

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Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz has 143 wins under his belt at the University of Iowa, one away from the all-time record.

The Gazette will count down each win, as ranked by writer Marc Morehouse.


Iowa's escape from (almost) New York

No. 25 Iowa 14, Rutgers 7 | Sept. 24, 2016

Iowa defensive back Brandon Snyder comes up with a fumble recovery after he striped the ball from Rutgers wide receiver
Iowa defensive back Brandon Snyder comes up with a fumble recovery after he striped the ball from Rutgers wide receiver Andre Patton during the second half at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, N.J., on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Three cool things:

1. Quick little journalism story: Our photographer for this game was Jim Slosiarek-MacGyver. I don’t know if you know, but often sports photogs have to ship their giant lenses to games ahead of time. Something got screwed up and Jim’s gear didn’t make it.

He had to scramble. The news photographer community is tightly knit and worldwide, apparently. They are Learjet SWAT team. Jim ended up with a rig the next morning (morning for us Midwesterners) and came up with a really great Brandon Snyder pic after he caused and recovered a fumble that definitively turned the game for the Hawkeyes.

It’s been 20 years on the beat for me. I want to say we’ve had 1.2 million photographers shoot the Hawkeyes. I’m consistently astounded by the work they do.

They are the MacGyvers. They solve problems and create meaningful images. I don’t know what’s going to happen with the vehicle that is newspaper, but we’re always going to want to see everything in our world. I hope, anyway.

2. Mike Hlas and I kind of know where we need to go in postgames. This one for me was the Hawkeyes surviving (I find beauty in that, I know some of you don’t and the fact that this was Rutgers, I have to give you some leeway) and Kirk Ferentz ranting about the block that Ike Boettger threw on what should’ve been a LeShun Daniels TD.

Hlas got to cover the 30 or so kids who came from Weequahic High School to see running back and Weequahic alum Akrum Wadley do his thing. (Current Iowa WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette was one of the kids.)

“I know every last one of them,” Wadley said. “They’re like my little brothers. They’ve got talent. Some of them might be better than me in the future.

“It feels good to have them here. It’s just all love. I grind with some of those guys. It’s a great feeling.”

An Akrum entry: His career could’ve gone so many other ways. So far from home. Stranger in a strangeland. I think he came out better for it. I also think Ferentz learned a few things and really strove to make it work. Well done, gentlemen. Seriously, tribute to both. Ferentz talks about the “good stories,” and I’d say Wadley was one of his best.

3. The Rutgers football environment is exactly what it needs to be. Don’t get any bigger than 50,000 seats. Spruce up the outside of the stadium and that is fine. I think Chris Ash is the right coach, but it’s also going to take some luck. Stuff like Ferentz moving fifth-string walk-on tight end Bruce Nelson to the offensive line. This program is going to need its Josey Jewell, a home-towner with the chip implanted on his shoulder.

I like the program. Ash is from Ottumwa. Offensive line coach A.J. Blazek is a football lifer and a damn good coach. I only talked with defensive coordinator Jay Niemann once, but I did have the pleasure of getting to know his son, Ben, former Iowa linebacker. I really think Ben was a glue guy for this defense the last three seasons.

Anyway, I’d love to see this staff get Rutgers to bowl level, just so all of the mile-wide, inch-deep jokers (I drift there, on occasion) would at least take pause. It’s never going to be great at Rutgers, but it is in the Big Ten (well, for now).

Quote: Snyder missed a tackle. Ferentz had something to say and give him credit for originality. Snyder finished sixth in the state golf tournament as a junior at West Lyon High School.

“That was the first thing he said to me, for sure,” Snyder said with a laugh. “He used the golf analogy and it made sense.”

Note: Iowa doesn’t see Rutgers again until 2019. Some people don’t like that and will say it’s not really a conference. I’d say this isn’t 1984 anymore. Times have changed and will change again.

The Big Ten’s nine-game conference schedule is good this way. I’d take Iowa-Rutgers over, say, Iowa-North Texas. And that’s really what this is, what can schools do with that fourth non-conference or ninth conference game. The SEC schedules an FCS school and plays eight conference games. The Big Ten should probably do that, but I like vital games and I know you do, too.

Real circular argument here. I like the nine games, but until everyone is doing it, why do it?

Why No. 124? — Iowa traveled halfway across the country and scored two TDs.


Game story from 2016

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Let’s allow this one little moment from No. 25 Iowa’s escape from almost New York before getting into the gore.

The Hawkeyes made a fourth-down stand late in their uncomfortably narrow victory over Rutgers, 14-7, before 44,061 fans Saturday at High Point Solutions Stadium. This is a time of celebration. Unless, of course, you’re the free safety who missed a tackle that allowed the big gain that put the defense in that position.

So, when Brandon Snyder trotted off the field, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz got in his face. You’ve got to give Ferentz credit for originality. Snyder finished sixth in the state golf tournament as a junior at West Lyon High School. Oh yeah, Ferentz went there.

“That was the first thing he said to me, for sure,” Snyder said with a laugh. “He used the golf analogy and it made sense.”

Hey, they can all laugh now, right?

Snyder forced and recovered a fumble early in the fourth quarter to set up the Hawkeyes’ (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) winning score, a 26-yard run by running back Akrum Wadley, who finished with 84 yards on 12 carries, tucked into the end zone in front of his home state family, old high school team and fans.

This gave Iowa a 14-7 lead with 8:35 left in the game that it would just kind of milk, rather unspectacularly, over a team with a first-year coach and a program that is just 4-13 in three years in the Big Ten.

The Hawkeyes allowed 193 rushing yards and were outgained, 383 to 355. Iowa’s offense had a beautiful 99-yard drive to take a 7-0 lead at the end of the first half (OK, there was a tipped pass that hung in the air and dropped into wide receiver Matt VandeBerg’s arms, so it wasn’t precision) and then punted four consecutive times in the second half before Snyder set it up.

The Hawkeyes’ defense played “bend don’t break” like that’s the goal, but it came up huge with a goal-line stand near the end of the first half that set the stage for the 99-yarder.

It’s OK to laugh now. They lived through this one. None of the red flags that were exposed in last week’s stunning loss to FCS kingpin North Dakota State were definitively answered. That is the takeaway, but so is the win. Maybe you played the “Victory Polka” somewhere after you pushed your TV off its stand in the third quarter.

“You shoot yourself in the foot, it’s tough to overcome that,” quarterback C.J. Beathard said. “You have a positive play, it gets called back and then you’re playing behind the chains. It’s tough to overcome those in drives.”

Is Beathard trying to do too much? He finished 12 of 23 for 162 yards and a TD. He was sacked twice and was pressured. He was frustrated. He tried to make things happen with his feet and took some whacks.

“When things aren’t going well sometimes, players try to do too much. Good players do,” Ferentz said. “The best thing he can do is just play like he plays. When he does that, he’s absolutely fine. But there are times he’s trying to do too much and make something out of whatever situation it might be.”

Another answer to frustration on offense was penalties. They did take a huge bite. On the first play of the second half, running back LeShun Daniels had what appeared to be a 75-yard run, but the play was killed on an illegal block below the waist penalty on tackle Ike Boettger. The Hawkeyes were hit with seven penalties for 57 yards, the most penalties against Iowa in a game this season.

For Iowa’s defense, linebacker Josey Jewell was pulled away from the line of scrimmage continuously because of alignment. This gave Rutgers (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten) a numbers advantage and the Scarlet Knights hit it over and over.

On the other hand, the defense did allow just seven points. On another hand, Iowa ran through a bunch of personnel packages on defense and linebacker Bo Bower and defensive end Parker Hesse had a pair of sacks. On yet another hand, the defense produced a goal-line stand that set the stage for the offense to put together a 99-yard drive.

The only sell here is the win. You can buy it or not. The Hawkeyes sang the school fight song in the corner of the end zone and they seemed happy to be able to do that.