Three cool things:
1. “Green for Greenwood.” Beautiful thing. If I remember correctly, this was mostly a push from the student section. It wasn’t a lot of people, but it of course was a wonderful sentiment.
Greenwood, a starter from 2008-10, is recovering from an anoxic brain injury, the result of a heart arrhythmia suffered while working out in 2011. You’ll see his name come up here a bunch. Greenwood was a terrific player and remains what the program embodies. He’s fighting and always will be fighting. I had a ton of respect for Brett when he played — a self-made player who opened his own doors as a walk-on, and that has grown with the turn his story has taken. As always, the Greenwoods remain in my thoughts and prayers.
2. This was game 4 in 2011. We’ve already established 2011 as wide receiver Marvin McNutt’s world tour. He caught seven passes for 100 yards and two TDs against Monroe. If you read the game story, you can tell I’ve already started the countdown to record breaking. Sometimes, I start those and I have no idea if they’re going to get all the way there.
The way this season was shaping up — not much running game, a QB with a live arm in James Vandenberg and McNutt — you could plainly see McNutt was going to have a shot. Best season ever for an Iowa wide receiver.
3. Iowa ran a spread passing offense for almost two full games in 2011. It totally worked in that second half against Pitt. The result was intriguing enough to carry it into this game against ULM.
The next week at Penn State? The offense was pinned and throwing a mile of quick three-and-outs to the defense. That’s not sustainable. Everyone came to their senses soon thereafter. Now you don’t see a lot of hurry-up with the Hawkeyes. Like maybe 1 percent of what they’ve done the last two seasons.
Quote: On the spread thing, this is Kirk Ferentz. ”Just trying to please the fans and the media,” Ferentz said with maybe a hint of sarcasm. “That’s simple. Simple answer there.”
Note: This performance came on the heels of Vandenberg helping Iowa claw back in a big historic way against Pitt. In these two weeks, he completed 52 of 80 for 619 yards, six TDs and one interception.
That remains the best two-week stretch for a QB under Ferentz. Jake Rudock came close a few times in 2014. What’s the similarity between 2011 and 2014? Passing is not Iowa’s comfort zone.
Why No. 136? — This was the fourth non-conference game in a 7-6 season. And it was Louisiana Monroe. No offense, Monroe.
Still, I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit I thought the “Green for Greenwood” was another game. A reader on Twitter pulled that out like it happened yesterday. You guys are good.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF THE GAME
Game story from 2011
IOWA CITY — “Green for Greenwood” decorated the stadium Saturday.
Maybe a quarter of the 70,585 fans at Kinnick Stadium wore green in support of former Iowa safety Brett Greenwood, who remains in the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics after suffering an apparent heart attack Sept. 9.
The yellow stripe on the Hawkeyes’ helmets ended with about an inch of green tape. Greenwood’s parents, Michele and Dave, visited the locker room after Iowa’s 45-17 victory over the University of Louisiana at Monroe and gave the team a positive report on the status of their son.
”They said he’s taken some positive steps,” junior cornerback Micah Hyde said. “It might be a monthly process or a year before he gets back to normal, but we’re hoping for the best.”
That statement was the biggest positive on a long list of positives for the Iowa Hawkeyes (3-1), who head into an off week before beginning the Big Ten season Oct. 8 at Penn State (3-1).
”It was powerful,” strong safety Jordan Bernstine said. “It was a weird, emotional state. We saw the green and wanted to go out there and do it for Brett.”
On the field, the no-huddle seems to be here to stay. Or, more accurately, it will be a part, maybe a big part, of the offense until it doesn’t work. There is simply no denying the comfort level quarterback James Vandenberg feels with the no-huddle.
Last week, he engineered the biggest comeback in school history. Saturday, the junior dissected the Warhawks (1-3) with 21 of 32 for 270 yards and three touchdowns. In the last two weeks, Vandenberg has completed 52 of 80 for 619 yards, six TDs and one interception.
This started when Iowa fell behind 24-3 against Pittsburgh last week and flipped into no-huddle. The Hawkeyes went no-huddle on the first drive and zipped 74 yards down field. The no-huddle set the rhythm for TD drives in six of Iowa’s first nine possessions.
“I’m not as hardheaded as you guys think I am,” Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We’re going to do whatever we can to score. That’s what it comes down to.”
The players do get a vote, and that is resoundingly in favor of no-huddle.
“It’s an easy way to get everyone involved quickly and get everyone into a rhythm,” Vandenberg said. “ ... I think it is a good spark for us and we definitely have the personnel to do it.”
They definitely have the personnel to do it.
Senior Marvin McNutt caught seven passes for 100 yards and two TDs, pulling within one of tying Iowa’s career record for TD receptions, shared by Danan Hughes (1989-92) and Tim Dwight (1994-97). McNutt has had 100 receiving yards in three of Iowa’s four games this season.
”Anytime, you can execute, it’s a great feeling,” said McNutt, who’s 12th in career receptions and sixth in career yards at Iowa. “Right now, Vandenberg is making all the plays. I wouldn’t say he’s hot, he’s a kid who can do it all for us. We’re going to continue to try to make him look good.”
Yes, McNutt was joking with the last part. The laugh gave him away. But it’s true, nonetheless. Freshman Kevonte Martin-Manley caught six passes for 82 yards. Keenan Davis caught two for 32 yards, including a 23-yard TD that made it 42-17 late in the third quarter.
Even the offensive linemen are buying into the no-huddle. Yes, it’s a lot of running around for the big fellas, but hey, whatever works. The Hawkeyes racked up 453 yards total offense, marking the first time they’ve produced more than 400 yards in back-to-back weeks since Eastern Illinois and Iowa State in weeks one and two last season.
”It’s faster and, yeah, you get a little tired,” tackle Riley Reiff said, “but I don’t think it affects us that much. We’re in really good condition, so it’s OK.”
The Hawkeyes are gaining and giving up yards. ULM put up 352 yards total offense, but Iowa held the Warhawks to 59 rushing yards, the first time this season Iowa has held an opponent to less than 100 yards.
Don’t discount the defense feeding off the tempo that Vandenberg and the offense put up.
”We felt like we had to match their tempo,” linebacker James Morris said. “We had to operate at the same level they were.”
One more positive, the off week should give players like outside linebacker Tyler Nielsen, who’s nursing an ankle injury, a little time to heal.
Positively positive up and down the board Saturday for the Hawkeyes.