Three cool things:
1. I so wanted to invite myself along on the trip Chad Greenway and Abdul Hodge took together to Greenway’s home in South Dakota.
This was 2005. People still had CDs in their cars. Wait, I think we have an iPod mention here.
I didn’t invite myself along. Greenway didn’t want cameras. That told me everything I needed to know about their friendship. It might’ve made a great story, but Greenway wanted to show Hodge his home without all of that crap.
I can’t say I blame them. Still, would’ve been a blast.
They probably had a good game in this one.
2. I really enjoyed interviewing the Chandler brothers, Nathan and Scott. Nathan was a one-year starter at QB. He was like 6-8, 260 pounds and Ken O’Keefe called the option with him a couple of times.
Scott ended up being the NFL dude, but I’m not sure a Hawkeye QB had a bumpier ride into a beautiful finish (Chandler was nearly perfect in that Outback win over Florida).
Nathan Chandler got roughed up some by fans. He did get booed at Kinnick in 2003 (why do we always remember the boos?).
He brushed it off. Or seemed to. He won 10 games in his one season as a starter. Think about the QBs that Ken O’Keefe worked with in those early and mid 2000s.
You guys booed Chandler. It’s OK to boo. The players usually can feel it coming and quickly blow through it and try to get to the next play.
Still, it’s got to sting. Maybe Chandler was too tall for it to reach him.
“Being the Iowa quarterback is the best thing going,” Chandler said. “We’ve got 10 wins and this team is so fun to play with. It’s the best thing going.”
3. How good were Greenway and Hodge during this stretch in 2003?
Going into this game, Greenway and Hodge were tied for the Big Ten lead in tackles at 11.1 a game. Each had more solo tackles than any linebacker in the Big Ten. Each had more total tackles than any linebacker in the Big Ten.
When Kirk Ferentz starts a sentence “I don’t mean to be disrespectful,” someone wrote something stupid (probably me) or he really wants to say he’s got kick-ass players, but reels himself back in like he’s muskie fishing.
“We’ve had some good linebacker play, I don’t mean to be disrespectful,” he said, “but they’re playing at a little different level. They have the athleticism necessary, but they also have that great linebacker mentality.”
Quote: “I’m not too sure about this, but I think when we score three touchdowns we’ve got a good shot to win.” — QB Nathan Chandler
Note: Penn State had a few rough years, as you know. This was the Lions’ fourth straight defeat, only the second time that happened in Joe Paterno’s then-36 seasons at PSU.
Why No. 45? — The score wasn’t close. The game was even less close.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF THE GAME
Game story from 2003
IOWA CITY — This here is meat-and-bone football. It’s grip and grunt, tug and pull, mean and ugly, down and dirty.
You can quit clamoring for style points any time now. The Iowa Hawkeyes aren’t about to go triple twist and stick the landing when a headlock works just fine.
Iowa’s 26-14 victory over Penn State on Saturday was a three-hour submission hold.
Quarterback Nathan Chandler threw two touchdown passes, Iowa blocked a punt for a touchdown and the Hawkeyes’ defense bullied the Nittany Lions before 70,397 at Kinnick Stadium.
“Just attack them, attack them, attack them,” said running back Fred Russell, who rushed a career-high 36 times for 148 yards. “We just kept attacking. That’s how we like to play and that’s how we’re going to win.”
The Hawkeyes (6-2, 2-2 Big Ten) set a physical pace Penn State (2-6, 0-4) couldn’t match and mugged their way to bowl-eligible status. Even when Penn State jumped to a 7-0 first-quarter lead on safety Yaacov Yisreal’s 83-yard interception return for a touchdown, the Hawkeyes were ahead.
The Lions led 7-0 after the first quarter but had zero first downs, 1 yard rushing and no pass completions. The course was set for PSU’s offense. And that course was straight into an Iowa defense that blew off terrible field position and terrible turnovers to dominate Penn State as few teams have.
The Lions, 2-6 for the first time since Joe Paterno became coach in 1966, put up season lows in first downs (nine), rushing yards (38) and total offense (176 yards).
”We lost the game in a lot of places,” said Paterno, 76, whose team lost its fourth straight, the second time that has happened in Paterno’s 36 seasons at PSU.
Paterno switched quarterbacks, nothing. He switched running backs, nothing. He tried play-action passes, OK, they worked. But they barely dented Iowa’s defense, which allowed its first TD by an offense since the Michigan game Oct. 4.
“They’re going to get better,” said linebacker Chad Greenway, whose blocked punt led to linebacker Jermire Roberts’ 26-yard TD return and a 19-7 Iowa lead about a minute into the second half. “But we were on today. When we play like that, we feel like we can play with anybody.”
Eight of the Lions’ 16 drives went three-and-out. They averaged 1.4 yards on 28 rushes. They didn’t record a first down or complete a pass until quarterback Zack Mills hit wideout Maurice Humphrey for a 5-yard gain with 7:31 left in the second quarter.
Middle linebacker Abdul Hodge set up the Hawkeyes’ first TD, a 2-yard pass from Chandler to sophomore wideout Matt Melloy, with a 47-yard fumble return to PSU’s 30. Strong safety Bob Sanders caused the fumble, the first of his two forced fumbles Saturday.
“One thing we were saying in the huddle is, let’s create a turnover, let’s help the offense,” Hodge said. “Bob’s hit sent the ball into the air and it landed in my hands like a gift.”
The Lions had more fumbles (three) than third-down conversions (a numbing 2-for-15).
“When we go three-and-out, everybody’s energized,” said defensive end Howard Hodges, who had a sack and five tackles. “Three-and-outs are key. You always want to go three-and-out. You want your offense out there controlling the ball, making big plays.
“They don’t have to score every time. Just control the ball, just control the game.”
Good thing Iowa’s offense doesn’t have to score every time. Good thing Iowa’s offense doesn’t have to score some of the time, or more often than not. At this point, you can’t even call Iowa’s offense a work in progress.
Every week, a new injury tears a new hole in an already unsteady operation. Iowa’s offense is less work in progress and more a study in repair manuals.
During Iowa’s first scoring drive, on third-and-15 from PSU’s 22, seldom-used wideout Warren Holloway made the catch of his career, second of his career, actually, and first this season — leaping high and sneaking one foot in bounds in front of cornerback Rich Gardner, giving Iowa a 20-yard gain and first down at PSU’s 2.
A play later, Chandler hit Melloy to bring the Hawkeyes within 7-6. It was Melloy’s first TD, his fourth catch this season and first since Michigan State four weeks ago.
For added degree of difficulty, a running play was called. Chandler just happened to notice PSU forgot about Melloy and left him uncovered.
“I’m not too sure about this, but I think when we score three touchdowns we’ve got a good shot to win,” said Chandler, who shook off two first-quarter interceptions and accounted for Iowa’s three TDs (two passes and a 1-yard run). “We understand that we have a great defense. We need to use that to our advantage and continue to improve on offense.”
Chandler’s 4-yard pass to wideout Ramon Ochoa gave Iowa a 12-7 halftime lead.
Iowa’s running game did come around after being bottled up last week at Ohio State. Led by Russell’s 148, the Hawkeyes rushed for 212 yards on 51 carries, their first 200-plus game since Buffalo.
“I thought the offensive line took a step forward,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We’re not there yet, but I thought they took a major step.”
Then again, Penn State is last in the Big Ten in rush defense, allowing 217 yards a game.
After the game, Russell posed for a picture on the 30-yard line near the north end zone. His dad, Michael Spencer, threw his arm around Russell’s shoulders.
That was the only arm tackle that worked on Russell all day.
Greenway-Hodge feature from 2005
South Beach, South Dakota
CHICAGO — Garth Brooks will once again topple Little Wayne. Kenny Chesney will dominate Jay-Z. 50 Cent won’t have a chance against Toby Keith.
It’s Chad Greenway’s car. It’s his stereo. Country music always wins.
“That’s why they made iPods,” Abdul Hodge said Tuesday at Big Ten media day. When Iowa’s multitalented, multi-decorated linebackers leave Mount Vernon, S.D., Friday for their final fall camp at the University of Iowa, five years of brotherhood will be packed in.
Five years of constant one-upsmanship. Five years of life. Five years of football.
These two aren’t tied to the hip. They’re hermetically sealed at the hip. Air tight. For life.
“I’ve been drawn to him from day 1,” Greenway said. “Just the energy, the intensity. I knew he was going to be a good player, and I knew I wanted to be around him.”
They arrived five years ago. They were worlds apart. A 6-foot-4, 244-pounder, Greenway played nine-man football at Mount Vernon High School, a short drive from South Dakota’s famed Corn Palace. He came to Iowa as an athlete. Maybe he was a quarterback, maybe a safety.
“He was the wildcard,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He was the athlete who learned how to play linebacker and still is learning.”
Hodge, 6-2, 234 pounds, was born in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. He was an all-state linebacker at Boyd Anderson High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., not far from South Beach in Miami. He arrived a linebacker and was going to make his stake as a linebacker.
“Abdul is a middle linebacker,” Ferentz said. “He just knows how to play that position. Instincts, I guess. Some guys just have it. He’s got it.”
Never mind the football part here. The two players who’ll be measures for Iowa linebackers for the next 10 years or so were worlds apart on the cultural map.
“He was black,” Greenway joked, when asked about the first thing he noticed about Hodge. “I’d never played with a black person in my life until I came to Iowa, in all seriousness.”
Hodge’s first impression?
“I saw the way he had his hair and I knew he wasn’t from the city,” he said.
This wasn’t a grand sociological experiment. Some coaches have toyed with ways to break down racial barriers or social cliques. They’ve assigned black and white players to rooms on road trips or during fall camp.
Ferentz has never felt the need to do that at Iowa. He changed the locker rooms when he arrived six years ago. Instead of offensive and defensive locker rooms, lockers were simply assigned numerically.
During fall camp, when the Hawkeyes check into an Iowa City hotel, upperclassmen will be assigned to a room with an underclassman. The idea is to control the football environment, the weight room, the practices. But that’s it.
Ferentz does see cliques form around racial lines, but he says that’s natural and doesn’t feel the need to force some sort of integration.
“Football is such a unique sport,” Ferentz said. “Players come from so many areas, especially when you have a population base like we have. The fun thing is watching how a team melds together. Watching those friendships develop.
“Certainly, I don’t think anyone would’ve predicted the Abdul-Chad relationship five years ago. It wasn’t contrived. It’s symbolic of what’s good about sports.”
Hodge and Greenway major in communication studies. For the record, Greenway concedes that Hodge has the better grade point, but that, and bench press, are about all he’ll give Hodge.
Greenway is the loquacious one. He’s the prankster. He was at home in front of the notebooks and microphones in Chicago and couldn’t pass on the opportunity to set up Hodge.
Hodge is visiting the Greenways’ farm in Mount Vernon this week, a fact that came up Tuesday. Greenway said this was the perfect stage to play up Hodge’s fear of dogs.
“I hang out with him all the time. I know he doesn’t like dogs,” Greenway said. “Just yesterday, there was a German Shepard on the (hotel) elevator with us. He couldn’t get behind me fast enough. He was like a little child.”
Hodge admitted he’s not a big fan of animals.
“Chad probably told you that, didn’t he?” Hodge said. “What’s he saying about me over there?”
Hodge’s pranks come with a dose of guile. He knows country music predates rap, but he put the idea in Greenway’s head that country music was somehow born out of rap.
“I wanted to just get him going,” Hodge said. “The way I said it, he believed me.”
When the two hit the road Friday for their final fall camp in Iowa City, Hodge knows Greenway will control the XM radio in his car. He knows he’s got hours of Garth Brooks ahead of him.
“I’ll just have to make sure the iPod is charged up,” he said.