116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY - 52 seconds on the clock. Ball at the 30. This is where Kirk Ferentz takes a knee and shifts into thoughts on overtime.
He gears down. He thinks cautiously. He doesn't want any sudden movements. Don't do anything risky. Take the knee, go into OT.
You wanted a new Kirk Ferentz. You got a new Kirk Ferentz.
Late Saturday night, the Hawkeyes had 52 seconds left on the clock. They had the ball on their 30-yard line. The game was tied 24-24 after Pitt drove 75 yards for a touchdown.
New Kirk went for the win and the Hawkeyes (3-0) delivered.
Seven plays, 31 yards and all 52 seconds later, Marshall Koehn tied a Kinnick Stadium record with a 57-yard field goal as time expired in the Hawkeyes 27-24 victory.
You've seen New Kirk fake some field goals, and that's been lighthearted fun for everyone. Like funny 'HAHA,” but let's not get crazy with 'New Kirk” talk. Saturday night was another level. The situation was similar at Ohio State in 2009. The Hawkeyes went into overtime and fell a game short of their first Rose Bowl since 1991. Obviously, the stakes weren't as high Saturday night, but you certainly could argue the new breeze that seems to be blowing through Iowa football was in the balance.
Take a knee and go into overtime, tell your players you'll take your chances with the percentages. Or go for it and tell your completely fresh narrative.
'He's putting confidence in us,” wide receiver Matt VandeBerg said. 'He feels comfortable about where we're at. Obviously, we need to continue to push forward, but I think as far as where we're at, we want to be the aggressors, we want to go out there and score every time we get the football.”
New Kirk knew that Pitt (2-1), which piled hit after hit on quarterback C.J. Beathard, would blitz and fly up field. It didn't matter. Beathard scrambled 12 yards on first down. Then, a 4-yard pass to tight end Henry Krieger Coble. Another Beathard scramble up the middle for 7 yards.
Suddenly, Pitt's calling the timeout. Pitt is on its heel and Iowa is the aggressor here. New Kirk, and staff, is pressing buttons, putting the pressure at the feet of the other sideline.
What's gotten into your coach?
'I don't think anything has gotten into him,” said Beathard, who completed 27 of 40 passes for 258 yards and rushed eight times for 39. 'We work those situations a lot in practice. Forty seconds left in the game, get it here for a field goal. We work those situations all the time in practice.”
You could probably make a strong argument that Beathard is the impetus for New Kirk. While arguments are being made, you might be able to say Beathard is the most physically skilled QB Ferentz has had in his 17 seasons.
Beathard took Pitt's best. Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi is a brilliant defensive mind. Old Kirk might've said something about Beathard doing his job. New Kirk said this:
'I tell you, if anybody's ever had questions about that, I want to talk to them,” Ferentz said about Beathard's toughness. 'He looks like a nice guy and he is a really nice guy. He's a nice young man, but I'll tell you, he's hard as nails.”
This harmonic convergence of New Kirk and a QB who while he took off on a scramble with 8 seconds left in the game kept his eye on the clock the whole time and made sure to go to the turf with at least two seconds left, has unlocked this offense.
It was a jagged line Saturday night. Iowa has thrown 40 passes in just 11 games the last seven seasons and is just 4-7, with No. 4 coming Saturday night against Pitt. New Kirk might know that number, but hey, whatever works, right?
'It shows he has confidence in us as an offense to do the job,” Beathard said. 'We did it today and that'll let him know in the future that we can take those chances.”
Old Kirk hated the rubgy punt. New Kirk threw it out there Saturday night. And he did it with Koehn, his kicker, and it went 64 yards with no return and was downed at Pitt's 4. Old Kirk loved the tight ends. New Kirk might still love them, but Iowa has a formation this season with zero tight ends on the field.
Old Kirk loves that 22 personnel on offense, two running backs and two tight ends. New Kirk keeps that around, but Saturday night, on a third-and-1 from Pitt's 31 in the second quarter, the old 22 morphed into a spread and forced Pitt to call a timeout.
Old Kirk was conscious of his actions. New Kirk seems to be making sure nothing gets lost in translation. He's confident in his players, and his players read that loudly and clearly.
'He has a lot of confidence in us,” wide receiver Tevaun Smith said. 'He knows these types of wins can take the team a long way. If we execute and he gives us that confidence in a game, it's going to take us a long way.”
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