Three cool things:
1. Reggie Roby is Iowa’s greatest special teams player ever. Or maybe Nate Kaeding. Or Tim Dwight. They’re close. I think you have to lean Roby, because he was otherworldly.
You could argue Roby punted Iowa into the 1982 Rose Bowl. He set an NCAA season record that season with a 49.8-yard average. In 1982, he led the nation with a 48.1-yard average. His career average of 45.4 yards ranks among college football’s best and remains a school record.
Where am I going with this?
Who’s the best special teams phase player of the Kirk Ferentz era? You can try to shoot holes in my vote, but I’m going with Sean Considine and I’m not really thinking twice about it.
He had five career blocked kicks. He returned a blocked punt for his second career touchdown in the Capital One Bowl win over LSU.
Considine blocked two punts in this one. I really don’t know who was doing the special teams scouting back then, but they clearly had rapport with Considine and knew how to deploy him like a ninja.
Again, Ferentz’s eye for players seemed to be a little more unleashed in the early days. When Considine broke in, Iowa thought of him more as a corner. Ferentz argued his “measurables.” I think it was the first time I heard that word.
The reality was, though, Considine was a walk-on from Byron (Ill.). Maybe Ferentz saw it. Everyone else had to squint.
Walk-on to NFL stories always will ring out. Everyone wants to tell those. It’s having climbed the mountain and planted the flag and then taking a moment to survey your work.
The “chip on the shoulder” thing is real for Iowa. It’s the goo that makes the difference some years. Considine articulated it so perfectly in 2005 after he was drafted by the Eagles in the fourth round.
“When I look back on it now, I think one of the best things that happened to me was having to walk on,” Considine said. “I came here with a huge chip on my shoulder. I wanted to prove a lot of people wrong and I think it really carried me through the first couple years.
“I think I outworked a lot of people and moved up the depth chart faster than I thought I would’ve because I was out there trying to prove people wrong.”
2. I promise to rein in the trophy run stuff from now on. It’s like I’m obsessed. Still though, the pure joy of reaching a goal? I’m still going to drink at that well.
3. I’m not sure I want to get into ranking Ferentz-era catches. Ed Hinkel had a bunch of receptions that I didn’t think he had business making. I know it’s recency effect, but Ihmir Smith-Marsette at Iowa State in 2017 was art.
Mo Brown made a catch in this game that was spectacular and courageous.
He made a 17-yard TD catch with a defensive back in tight coverage and another closing. Brown might’ve seen the closer coming in low. Brown knew he was going to land in harm’s way and had his ankle blown up. He held on before limping off the field and missing a large chunk of the season.
Probably worth it. This was Ferentz’s first win over Iowa State and snapped the Hawkeyes’ five-game losing streak to the Cyclones.
Quote: Iowa might’ve broken ISU’s streak in 2001. And it looked great when linebacker Grant Steen picked off a late pass deep in ISU territory. Except that Iowa State WR Craig Campbell swooped in and knocked the ball out of Steen’s arms. The Cyclones hung on for the win.
In 2003, Steen recovered a fumble and picked off a pass. He protected the ball like it was whatever the thing was from “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
It stung Steen, but he must’ve had one of those personalities where his teammates knew a little humor might help him push through the adversity of a play almost made.
He even joked that, sure maybe, the drill where defensive players protect the ball after an interception was called the “Grant Steen drill.”
”Coach (Norm) Parker was the first one and he said, ‘You actually held on to it this time,”’ Steen said. “It’s ruthless.”
Note: Before this five-game winning streak, what was ISU’s longest against the Hawkeyes? ISU won three straight twice, 1980-82 and 1894-95 and 1897.
Why No. 29? — To call back on the “South Park” bit, we’re long past accumulating World of Warcraft points killing boars in the woods. The entrance of the trophy room is right around the corner.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF THE GAME
Game story from 2003
AMES — Robert Gallery is a lineman, so his 40 time is whenever he finishes. But he’s roughly the size of an upright buffalo, and that’s why he now leads Iowa in the trophy-yard dash.
Two years ago, Gallery, a 6-foot-7, 320-pounder, was first to Floyd of Rosedale when Iowa won it back from Minnesota. Saturday, he edged tight end Erik Jensen in the trophy-yard dash to the wayward Cy-Hawk Trophy.
“I don’t think anybody’s going to challenge him for that trophy,” linebacker Grant Steen said. “He’s a big dude.”
The way the Hawkeyes sprinted across the Jack Trice Stadium field Saturday, you’d never guess they once held the Cy-Hawk for 15 seasons. They sprinted, the Cyclones split and then the Hawkeyes paraded Cy-Hawk to the band.
“I guess it’s heavier than I thought it’d be,” defensive lineman Jared Clauss said. “Glad we got a chance to find that out for ourselves.”
You know the saying, five straight losses to Iowa State makes the heart grow fonder. OK, paraphrasing there. The No. 23 Hawkeyes (3-0) snapped the ISU (2-1) streak while hitting on two of three cylinders.
Free safety Sean Considine blocked two punts in the third quarter, and Iowa’s defense herded the Cyclones when it mattered during Iowa’s 40-21 victory before a record Jack Trice crowd of 53,488.
Special teams and defense are usually afterthoughts when it comes to highlight reels. But Saturday’s star was Considine, whose main contribution was putting his hand in the way of backup punter Troy Blankenship’s leg.
He used his hand on the first one, knocking the ball into the ISU end zone where safety Chris Smith recovered for a 27-7 lead less than a minute into the third quarter. The second time Considine arrived at Blankenship’s foot early enough to shine the football.
“He kicked my leg. He didn’t even kick the ball,” said Considine, who tied an Iowa record with two blocked punts. “I didn’t even realize I was hurting until I got over to the sidelines. My adrenaline finally settled down and then, man, my leg is hurting.”
Considine’s second block set up Nate Kaeding’s fourth field goal and gave the Hawkeyes a 33-7 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Blankenship, a sophomore from Cedar Rapids, subbed for the injured Tony Yelk, who was hurt in last week’s victory over Ohio. Between the high snaps from center Matt Bockes and the swinging gate in the middle of the Cyclones’ punt team that Considine twice blew through, Blankenship never had a chance.
“Whoever the punter is has nothing to do with the protection problems or the snaps,” Iowa State Coach Dan McCarney said. “We need to fix those and do a better job coaching.”
Special teams goofs made the stat sheet a two-handed head-clutcher.
Iowa State had 22 first downs to Iowa’s 10. The Cyclones outgained the Hawkeyes, 390-243. And you could bake a pizza with the time of possession edge ISU held, 34:37 to 25:23.
“Our guys really believe in special teams,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. ‘They believe in the value of that. And they lay it out there when the ball’s snapped.”
Iowa’s defense set the stage for special teams stunt work.
No amount of adrenaline in his 186-pound body will help freshman quarterback Austin Flynn. Passing or running, Flynn factored in 61 of ISU’s 85 plays. You ask that much out of a freshman quarterback, against a hammerhead defense with budding professional wrestlers across the line of scrimmage, there are bound to be a few mistakes.
The Cyclones had great field position to answer Iowa’s 3-0 lead in the first quarter, but on first down from their 37-yard line, Flynn was zapped by middle linebacker Abdul Hodge and fumbled. Steen recovered and, four plays later, Iowa quarterback Nathan Chandler hit wideout Mo Brown for a 10-0 lead.
With the Hawkeyes leading 27-7, ISU was in catch-up, pass-and-gun mode. Feeling the heat from Iowa’s front four, Flynn was intercepted by Steen, who returned the ball to ISU’s 4, setting up a 19-yard field goal and a 30-7 lead.
Iowa held ISU to 71 yards on 40 rushes, a stifling 1.8 yards a carry. With no run threat, Flynn took countless shots and completed 24 of 41 for 239 yards, one interception and one TD. He also led ISU with 57 rushing yards.
“It was hard to find the yards running against Iowa,” McCarney said. “They have a very good defensive line. That’s why they are ranked like they are, high in the division and the nation (against the run).”
Trailing 20-7 at halftime, the Cyclones rushed for 19 yards in the second half.
“They gave up on the run pretty fast, and it’s so much easier knowing that you’ve got pass rush every play,” said end Howard Hodges, who had one of Iowa’s three sacks. “Our defensive backs and linebackers were sitting on routes and knew what was coming. It was up to us to put on some pressure.”
Hodge and fellow linebacker Chad Greenway played Matrix-fast Saturday. Seriously, they were special effects good.
Greenway, a 6-4, 236-pound sophomore, piled up 17 tackles, Hodge had 15, including three tackles for loss.
“We watched a ton of film this week,” said Hodge, whose day included a forced fumble and a sack. “Some of the other guys kidded us, wondering if we were going to class. Believe me, we fit it all in.”
Steen’s pick led to first down at ISU’s 4. Considine’s second punt block gave Iowa first down at ISU’s 6.
Yet the Hawkeyes managed just two field goals.
If you’re looking for a buzz kill on a day a happy black-and-gold mosh pit broke out to the tune of “In Heaven There Is No Beer,” it’s that Iowa’s offense curled up and went conservative, especially when Brown, Iowa’s top playmaker on offense, left the game with an ankle injury after his TD catch.
Running back Fred Russell gained 75 yards on 26 carries. And even though he played less than one quarter, Brown still led the Hawkeyes with three catches for 52 yards.
With Iowa’s special teams and defense hitting on all cylinders, and pretty much anything beginning “Cy,” Iowa coaches just needed the offense to set up Kaeding, who became Iowa’s career leading scorer (291 points) and set a single-game record with 16 kicking points.
“I don’t see our offense living off me scrambling for 42 yards,” said Chandler, referring to his 42-yard run that set up Russell’s 2-yard TD and gave Iowa a 17-7 lead with 13:16 left in the second quarter. “We know we’ve got work to do and that we’ve got to improve. But we didn’t want to do anything stupid today. We didn’t do a lot because we didn’t have to do a lot.”
Iowa’s best and most productive run of the day was to the Cy-Hawk Trophy.
Clauss, a native of West Des Moines, somehow wrestled the trophy from Gallery, the upright buffalo. He carried it on his helmet from the south end zone to the north end zone and all the way into the Iowa locker room.
Iowa fans lined a fence that led to the locker room. Clauss ran the trophy along the fence, with fans getting a touch.
“I wanted the fans to get a little taste of it,” Clauss said.
Absence made everyone want to get a little touch.