Three cool things:
1. Night sports editor Sam Paxton and night desker John Kerth have been moving things around on this list. They’ve really been a great help. Sometimes, no, I actually can’t see the forest through the trees.
I really do think we have two distinct voices working on this project. Sam and John see things more through your eyes, the fans. You guys have Hawkeye tattoos. I don’t have any tattoos.
I’m more of the football scientist guy. I see weird things happen in a game and, a lot of times, that’s all I remember. This game is probably too high on any list.
This was a horrible game. You really had to wonder if P.J. Fleck was going to make it to year 2. He kept rowing the boat, though, and, well, his office looks like a 12-year-old’s bedroom.
This game was full of football oddity. Full. You’ll think I’m making this stuff up.
2. Kevonte Martin-Manley really screwed up. He left a little too early. He kind of turned the wrong way. It was really, really bad. We’re talking about the postgame interview with the Big Ten Network, down on the Kinnick Stadium field after the dismantling of Western Michigan.
Martin-Manley took off his helmet, took the headphones from Coach Kirk Ferentz — coaches always get to go first — and left his coach hung up in the microphone cord attached to the camera.
That’s a total reach, of course. Pretty perfect day for Martin-Manley, whose punt returns of 83 and 63 yards for touchdowns gave Iowa a start.
Let’s dig in on Martin-Manley, whose 184 punt return yards fell 17 short of tying Nile Kinnick’s record of 201 punt return yards in a game (set in 1939).
After Martin-Manley, who came into the game with 34 career punt return yards, scored on the 63-yarder to give Iowa a 24-0 lead with 10:46 left in the second quarter, he didn’t get the green light for another return. He didn’t get a shot at taking down the record of the man the stadium is named for.
“I was kind of bitter about that, that I wasn’t able to get it,” Martin-Manley said, of course with a huge smile on his face. “To even be mentioned in that category, I was truly humbled by it.”
3. And then cornerback B.J. Lowery scored TDs on a pair of interception returns.
Lowery picked off two passes and returned them for touchdowns. He became the first Iowa player to score on two interception returns in the same game and just the second Big Ten player in the BCS era (since 1998) to pull it off.
You get the point. This kind of thing doesn’t happen very often.
On his first interception, Lowery played a nail from an eight and was off. That’s what he said when asked about the coverage.
He said he was off, but he was on.
Lowery picked off the pass and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown. The senior peeled off and Western Michigan quarterback Tyler Van Tubbergen never saw him. His second interception return for a score is a much easier explanation. He just undercut an out route, picked off backup QB Zach Terrell and walked in from 13 yards.
“I was pretty much by myself in the open field,” Lowery said.
“It’s just one of those things,” Ferentz said. “You can’t explain that. To have four non-offensive touchdowns in a game, that’s pretty hard to explain.”
It was easy for Lowery, who had three interceptions that year.
“It was a great jam by (linebacker) Christian Kirksey,” Lowery said of the first pick. “If he wouldn’t have done that, I wouldn’t have been in the position I was in. He did that and I was able to come over the top and pick the ball off.”
That one gave Iowa a commanding 38-3 halftime lead. Lowery also put up Iowa’s next touchdown. This one was a conventional cornerback play, the kind of pass they all dream about. He read Terrell’s eyes, which were glued to a receiver on an out route, and made a play on the ball.
“It’s not a coincidence,” linebacker James Morris said. “You saw the plays he made last week and now the plays this week. He’s playing his best football right now.”
Quote: “You know you didn’t play very well when the opposing head coach, who I respect and admire, just looks at you and goes, ‘Just one of those games.’ Wow. Kirk Ferentz said it’s just one of those games, I guess it was. I mean, I don’t know. We didn’t play very well.” — WMU coach P.J. Fleck
Does that quote remind anyone of Gary Barnett and Hayden Fry and “Hope we didn’t hurt any of your boys?”
Note: Martin-Manley’s 184 punt return yards fell 17 short of tying Nile Kinnick’s record of 201 yards in a game (set in 1939). Two years later, Kinnick’s long-standing Big Ten record fell. Maryland cornerback/punt returner Will Likely returned eight punts for 233 yards and a touchdown in the Terrapins’ 50-21 victory against Richmond.
Why No. 62? — The Hawkeye fan guys won out over the football scientist guy.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF THE GAME
Game story from 2013
IOWA CITY — The new faces introduced themselves with kind of a boom.
Freshman quarterback C.J. Beathard hit junior wide receiver Damond Powell for a 54-yard bomb in the third quarter of Iowa’s 59-3 victory over Western Michigan on Saturday. Sophomore running back Jordan Canzeri finished off the drive high-stepping into the end zone from 16 yards.
Boom. Here we go. Full-blown quarterback controversy. New No. 1 wide receiver. The whole works. Team turmoil. All that noise.
“Sure,” starting quarterback Jake Rudock said about the upcoming quarterback apocalypse.
Let’s make sure to note here that he was smiling the smile of a victory and a quarterback who got an early day off against a really bad Mid-American Conference football team.
So, yes, put the brakes on the whole back-stabbing soap opera that was going to be so, so delicious.
“We’re trying to work hard with those guys in practice and get them some extra work, but there’s no substitute for being out there in front of a crowd and having to do some things, so that’s good,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said.
Wait, so no controversies?
“I think it helps me because you always wonder about it,” Beathard said. “There’s such a big difference between high school and college. You can finally say you have a few snaps under your belt and you can take the next steps from there.”
That TD did make the score 59-3. Western Michigan had long checked out. Junior wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley’s pair of punt return TDs — 59 seconds apart in the second quarter — and senior cornerback B.J. Lowery’s pair of interception returns for TDs were the heavy lifting for the Hawkeyes (3-1) in this sleepy run-up to the Big Ten opener Saturday at Minnesota (4-0).
Of the trio who made a splash on offense, the only one you’ll definitely see next weekend is Canzeri. Before last weekend, he played a series in each of Iowa’s first three games. He’s in the plans as, at the very least, a spot running back with Mark Weisman the No. 1 and Damon Bullock No. 2. Still, Canzeri crossed the goal line for the first time since Dec. 30, 2011 in the Insight Bowl. He sat out 2012 with a torn ACL.
“It does make me happy to score, because it has been a long time,” said Canzeri, who led Iowa with 73 yards on 13 carries. “I’ve been waiting, been patient. I’m just happy to contribute and help out my team.”
You might see Powell in Minneapolis. You’ve been seeing him in every game. In the opener, Rudock tried him on two long pass plays. They connected for a 49-yarder and missed on a third-and-1 that got a lot of attention in the second half of a close game. Against Missouri State, Powell ran a long route and cleared out a side of the field for a 47-yard completion. He saw some time, but wasn’t targeted at Iowa State.
Against WMU, Powell caught two passes for 83 yards, including a 29-yard TD from Rudock. So, that’s three catches for 132 yards and a TD for Powell. That makes him Iowa’s No. 2 in receiving yardage. Martin-Manley, who has 20 receptions, leads Iowa with 169 yards.
OK, there’s a really good chance you see Powell at Minnesota. And beyond. He averages 44.0 yards a catch and gives Iowa a unique weapon.
“He’s just a high-energy guy, just one of those guys that makes you feel good,” Ferentz said. “This will be good for his confidence, to actually be out there in Kinnick and do something instead of just trotting out there with the team wanting a shot.”
Last year at Snow College in Utah, Powell led junior college football with a 30-yard average on 41 catches. It’s been a slow roll out for the Toledo, Ohio, native, who finished at Snow just a few days before fall camp started in August.
“Just learning a new offense,” Powell said. “That’s basically it. The coaches keep me motivated and keep me working. We’re building off it now.”