116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Iowa once had a punter named Ron Coluzzi; he liked to name footballs 'Naomi'
No. 15 Iowa 45, Miami (Ohio) 21 | Sept. 3, 2016
Three cool things
1. Oh, Akrum. Always walking right up to the line of a celebration penalty. I don't know when you're reading this, but right now, it's mid-June. I still have three 2017 Iowa football games on the DVR. I watched and deleted the Nebraska game this weekend. (Nebraska got its Stoops. Let's see how it goes, because, wow, that last thing didn't work, like, at all.)
Akrum Wadley rushed for 159 yards and three TDs in this one, so it's a good study of how the New Jersey running back carried himself in the end zone.
Wadley got in some, in my opinion, 'necessary high stepping' on his first TD run. And then he started doing the 'keep filling my bowl, I'm eating' thing, raising his right hand to his face like he was holding the fork.
It used to bother me when referees shoved their ways into TD celebrations, but in this case, the ref was right there and, I think, trying to keep Akrum tethered to the planet. He was trying to help. Wadley and the ref locked eyes. The ref said, I think, 'Knock it off.' And that's all Akrum needed. He stopped and turned into hugs from the O-line.
(Dear O-linemen: If you have a running back who might like to motorcycle jump the celebration stuff, the best thing you can do is sprint over there and hug him. You might stop a 15-yarder.)
Well, here's some evidence that shows Akrum was keenly aware that he was under watch from officials. (This is never intended as a serious storyline. It's just a fun aside. Let some personality shine. I always assume you guys want at least a little personality.)
2. Stealing from the Drive-By Truckers here, but like storms and droughts, we're all going to remember Ron Coluzzi, right?
You're going to want to read that one. (If the back nine of my career goes off the road, I hope to end up in a cubicle next to Coluzzi, delivering perfect logistics and sharing funny memes.)
(See feature story below)
3. Josey Jewell emulsified a dude on punt coverage and got ejected from this one. I really think Jewell knew what was coming almost every news conference.
This time, he said all of the right things, but the tone he said them in was, 'I'm so angry I had to miss most of this game, yes, I might shoot lasers out of my eyes at you.'
Sometimes, you can say it all with your tone.
Quote: 'I think (Greg Mabin) is a helluva player, but you've got to pick your poison and we had some success. If you go back and look at the film ... you could put me out there at left receiver and I'd have hung out with (Desmond) King and asked him why the hell he's not in the NFL.' — Miami Coach Chuck Martin (he's still there!)
This played out plainly in this game. Five weeks later, Mabin broke up what would've been the game-winner at Minnesota.
Note: Iowa is 4-0 against Miami (Ohio). There's a game scheduled in 2019 between them. That's about right. Once every three or four years, that's about right.
Why No. 93? — You guys have picked up on the fact that stuff like Akrum's TD celebrations got a lot more airtime when the game was ... wasn't competitive.
IOWA CITY — You wanted style points, Akrum Wadley delivered.
First, the junior running back led the Hawkeyes with 121 yards and two TDs on 12 carries Saturday in the No. 15 Hawkeyes' season-opening 45-21 victory over Miami (Ohio) before 68,390 fans at Kinnick Stadium.
The Hawkeyes (1-0) scored touchdowns in five or their first seven drives and turned a pair of RedHawks' fumbles into a 21-0 first-quarter lead. In its first 10 plays of the season, Iowa burst for gains of 23, 33, 38 and 43 yards. It was Iowa's eighth consecutive victory at Kinnick.
Wadley sprinkled some style on things with a high-stepping 11-yard TD run in the first quarter. He started the high steps a little early. A Miami defender got close and Wadley covered up.
You wanted style points. You got them.
'(Offensive line) Coach Brian Ferentz said, 'Don't do that anymore,' Wadley said. 'I don't think he was really feeling that. He said, 'Good run, but look, we don't need that.' '
The offense made it rain style points (Wadley also did the international sign for 'making it rain' after the high stepping). Quarterback C.J. Beathard completed 13 of 20 for 192 yards and a TD. Wide receiver Matt VandeBerg caught four passes for 99 yards. Running back LeShun Daniels rushed 10 times for 83 yards, including a 43-yard toss sweep.
The play was supposed to go to Wadley, but the call went in late. Let's just say Daniels made the most of it.
'I came over to the sideline and said, 'Y'all really tried to take me out, that's messed up,'' Daniels said with a laugh. 'I don't get in open space like that, like Akrum does, so when I do, I want to make the most of it.'
Ten true freshmen got in the game, including quarterback Nathan Stanley. True freshman kicker Keith Duncan made all of his PATs and a 22-yard field goal. Senior punter Ron Coluzzi, a graduate transfer from Central Michigan, averaged 41.7 yards on three punts and booted seven of his eight kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.
'They play the game the right way all the time, always playing hard and smart all the time,' Miami coach Chuck Martin said. 'For us, I was looking forward to the physicality of Iowa, for our kids to feel what it's like to play a team that plays a team that's so tough.'
There were style points and there were some deductions. Let's get to the muddy stuff.
Iowa's defense allowed three monster scoring drives — 12 plays and 75 yards, 13 and 75 and 12 and 74. Miami made it 35-21 in the fourth quarter, even with three lost fumbles gumming up a nicely crisp day from sophomore quarterback Billy Bahl (19 of 29 for 266 yards and two TDs).
The RedHawks piled up 424 yards (6.1 yards per play on 70 plays) and rushed for 158 yards. Miami avoided cornerback Desmond King like he was made out of plutonium and gave senior cornerback Greg Mabin fits.
'I think (Mabin) is a helluva player, but you've got to pick your poison and we had some success,' Martin said. 'If you go back and look at the film ... you could put me out there at left receiver and I'd have hung out with King and asked him why the hell he's not in the NFL.'
Of course, the Hawkeyes' defense played all day with one cleat.
Junior linebacker Josey Jewell was ejected after the first series. On a punt return, Jewell leveled defensive back Matt Merimee and was called for targeting. That's an automatic ejection. Jewell had to sit out the rest of the game but will be eligible for all of next week's game at Iowa State. Sophomore Jack Hockaday replaced Jewell.
That was Iowa's D playing with one cleat.
'Josey is a really aggressive player, and that was a great hustle play, too,' head coach Kirk Ferentz said. 'He was trying to rush the punter and ended up right back where the return was. Nobody hurt more about not being out there than Josey. That's what he works so hard for is to be out there playing.'
So were the Hawkeyes able to find a comfort zone? In week 1? With one of its best defensive players ejected after one series?
Manna from heaven
IOWA CITY — Ron Coluzzi is taking the 'shield' and 'gunners' parts of Iowa's punt unit out for dinner tonight. No blocked punts in the first four games warrants a meal. The rest of Iowa's punt team will have to wait.
'I'll get the rest of the guys next week when my checking account kind of comes back in store,' Coluzzi said.
On media day, Iowa assistant Chris White was asked if Coluzzi, a graduate transfer from Central Michigan, was manna from heaven. Iowa had no punter and no kickoff specialist. Then, in late winter/early spring, Coluzzi asked for a chance.
'Well, hopefully, yeah,' White said. 'So far, so good.'
— Coluzzi was named Big Ten special teams player of the week after his performance last Saturday at Rutgers. The senior from Naperville, Ill., averaged 42.0 yards on seven punts and had three touchbacks on kickoffs against Rutgers.
— Coluzzi is fourth in the Big Ten with a 43.3 average on 20 punts. His 18 touchbacks lead the Big Ten.
— Just two of Coluzzi's punts have been returned for a grand total of zero, zip, nada yards.
_ Coluzzi's maximum hang times in Iowa's first four games have ranged from 4.51 seconds last week to 5.04 against Iowa State.
There's a reason for the serious hang times on punts. Coluzzi was knocked out while covering a punt at Purdue in 2014.
'After that Purdue hit from two years ago that I'm sure you guys have seen, it's my goal to put the ball up as high as I can and as far as I can so our coverage can get down there and force a fair catch, so there is no return,' Coluzzi said, 'so I don't have to make a tackle.'
And so, yeah, Coluzzi did take a little pleasure when Penn State kicker Joey Julius, all 5-10, 258 pounds of him, put a highlight hit on Michigan returner Jourdan Lewis last weekend. (Lewis tweeted the next day, 'I got hit by a nose tackle that can kick.')
'That was unbelievable,' Coluzzi said. 'That definitely puts kickers in a better spot, making a tackle and not getting knocked at Purdue like I did. It was really cool to see that.'
Coluzzi graduated from CMU with degrees in marketing and logistics management. He loved the movie 'Cast Away,' you know the Tom Hanks movie where he ends up stranded on a desert island after a plane crash, with his only friend being a volleyball named 'Wilson.'
Coluzzi loved that movie not for the survival adventure part, not for the tearful re-entry into society, but for the setup. Hanks' character is a logistics guy at FedEx.
'I love that movie,' Coluzzi said with a laugh. 'I think I would be doing kind of what Tom Hanks did in that movie, but in different ways. Technology has kind of advanced a little. (The movie came out in 2000).'
Logistics is what it sounds like. 'It's moving product from A to B in the most efficient manner,' Coluzzi said.
Coluzzi has a job at J.B. Hunt, a freight shipping company, waiting for him in February. They hired him for operations management.
How does one go to college and come out with a degree in logistics?
'When I went to Central Michigan I had no idea what I wanted to do,' Coluzzi said. 'I knew I wanted to do something in business, because my dad (Ron) was a business management major. Because of football ... Every day you have to wake up at the crack of dawn, every day you have to be over here at a certain time ... You've got to lift weights. You have no time. Time is valuable and then I realized what major deals with that ... logistics. It kind of just fell into place.'
That works backward as a metaphor for football, too. Coluzzi reflected on the time he didn't have as a student-athlete and turned that into his major and, soon, his life's work.
Football is the ultimate game of operations management. As a punter, Coluzzi is a shipping lane, kind of literally, and a cog in the great machine.
'At the end of the day, it's getting the job done and every player has a small part of it,' Coluzzi said. 'I'm just doing my part.'
Coluzzi wants to get into compliance consulting with international freight, so he can travel the world before, he said, 'I have a mortgage and kids.'
Until then, he'll punt for the Hawkeyes and sleep with Naomi.
Get your minds out of the TMZ segment.
Coluzzi carried a football into the lobby of the Hansen Performance Center. He said it's named 'Naomi.'
'I sleep with Naomi, I bring her everywhere,' he deadpanned. 'I do drops everywhere I go. It doesn't leave my sight. No ...'
And then chuckle.
'It's something I like to carry around, because in a game, ball security is very important,' he said. 'You've got to be very comfortable.'
Actually, 'Naomi' is the name of his car. OK, maybe it is.
'I have a 2000 Nissan Altima, it's falling apart,' he said. 'The bumper actually fell off. We've been through good days and we've been through bad days. It's like punting. You have good practices and bad practices ...
'I don't know. I'm a kicker. It's weird. It's what we do.'
So far, so good.