Iowa Football

Shark week came early for Iowa's secondary

Iowa's young defensive backs opened the gate on a training day

Purdue wide receiver Terry Wright catches a touchdown pass Saturday against Iowa defensive back Riley Moss at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Ind. (Sandra Dukes/USA TODAY Sports)
Purdue wide receiver Terry Wright catches a touchdown pass Saturday against Iowa defensive back Riley Moss at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Ind. (Sandra Dukes/USA TODAY Sports)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — This was game nine. At this point, everyone is who they are and they’re probably going to be the same football player in three weeks.

Basically, there’s no shaking the cornerback tree and waiting for superstars to float down.

Iowa has true freshman corners. Riley Moss and Julius Brents have been there for the last five weeks, since first debuting at Minnesota.

Purdue attacked their inexperience relentlessly in the Boilermakers’ 38-36 victory Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium.

Quarterback David Blough picked on Moss for a pair of TDs and hit Brents for one and got a late pass interference call on him that helped Purdue set up for the game-winning field goal with eight seconds left.

“They both have really good futures,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We think they’re the best guys to play for us, we’ve got them out there. There’s nothing I’m seeing from them, without seeing the film, that’s going to make me pull back on that one. I just like the way they work.”

Blough threw for 333 yards and four TDs. Wide receiver Terry Wright had a career day with six catches for 146 yards and three TDs. Wright entered the game with 474 career receiving yards and two TDs.

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The Boilermakers put a season-high 434 yards on Iowa’s defense. Blough’s 333 passing yards was the most against the Hawkeyes in 19 games, stretching back to Iowa State’s Jacob Park throwing for 347 last season.

Shark week came early for Purdue’s passing game or Iowa’s secondary, depending which end of the food chain you observe.

“When I was studying film earlier this week, I saw 33, Moss, I saw he doesn’t try to jam you off the line,” Wright said. “He tries to mirror you off the line. When you get running, he opens the gate and tries to run with you.

“With my speed, I’m one of the fastest guys on the team, so I am pretty sure if you open the gate with me, there’s no keeping up with me.”

There wasn’t.

Moss and Brents won their jobs after injuries slowed Michael Ojemudia and Matt Hankins. Moss was picked on at Minnesota, but bounced back with two interceptions.

This is the life of a corner. That is an island and the mistakes shoot out into the world as quickly as they’re on your TV.

The 82-yarder was a guillotine. It happened on Purdue’s first play of the third quarter and gave the Boilermakers a 28-17 lead. Perfect pass from Blough over Moss and into Wright’s hands. The Hawkeyes were fighting off their backs the rest of the way.

“That was one of the more disappointing plays, it was kind of deja vu all over again from a year ago,” said Ferentz, referring to the two third-quarter TD passes that lifted Purdue over Iowa last season. “That was tough. I thought Riley competed out there. Thought Julius did the same thing.”

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Ojemudia did replace Moss in the fourth quarter. Hankins hasn’t played since the Wisconsin game on Sept. 22. Ojemudia and Hankins will have a chance to compete this week, Ferentz said.

“Coming in, we knew they were going to take their shots, solid quarterback, solid group of receivers,” senior safety Jake Gervase said. “It was them executing their game plan and making the big plays.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8256; marc.morehouse@thegazette.com

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