Iowa Football

No. 22 Iowa 23, Maryland 0: Hawkeyes punch in, punch out the Terps

Iowa controlled this one from the opening kick

IOWA CITY — Like a toddler, the Hawkeyes moved Maryland where they wanted it and the Terrapins obediently stayed put.

They thought about jumping into the mall fountain a few times, but the Hawkeyes wouldn’t let them.

It was like this for four quarters in the Hawkeyes’ 23-0 victory Saturday before 69,250 fans at Kinnick Stadium.

Maryland, don’t get gum in your hair. Maryland, don’t stick a fork in the outlet. Maryland, just stand here and watch cartoons.

The Terps (4-3, 2-2 Big Ten) just weren’t tall enough for this ride.

The No. 22 Hawkeyes (6-1, 3-1) rushed for a season-high 224 yards on 52 carries, which is the most for the Hawkeyes in 17 games. That said everything you need to know about this one.

Of course, when you run the ball like that you dominate time of possession. Iowa possessed the ball 40:55, the second-highest time of possession in head coach Kirk Ferentz’s 20 seasons as Iowa’s head coach (41:53 vs. Kent State in 2004).

And when you dominate time of possession, that makes it a lot easier on your defense.

Maryland gained just 115 yards, the fewest Iowa has allowed against a Big Ten opponent during the Ferentz era. Maryland’s 39 plays were the fewest plays against a Ferentz team. That was Iowa’s 10th shutout of the Ferentz era.

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Iowa’s only other TD was defensive end Anthony Nelson’s fumble recovery in the Maryland end zone, giving Iowa its final margin with 3:31 left in the game. Senior Miguel Recinos kicked three field goals (23, 25 and 36).

The Hawkeyes are doing so much right now that when they’re asked about the “how,” they default to mentioning practice.

“The thing I feel best about, and we talked about Parker (Hesse), I can throw the other 12 seniors in. I think they all get it,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “They’re doing what they can to make sure everybody understands there’s no off days. We can’t show up and kind of mess around. We’re not that good. Nobody is.”

Part of mentioning practice is being humble and staying grounded, but this is one of those Ferentz teams that is really good at taking what they practice to the game field.

On gameday, that shows up as confidence.

Let’s distill this thought to wide receiver Brandon Smith’s 10-yard touchdown catch with eight seconds left before halftime, giving Iowa a 13-0 lead.

Remember when in the opener Smith didn’t use his 6-foot-3, 219-pound body and let defensive backs get physical with him? On this play, Smith got a beautiful release, put defensive back Tino Ellis on his hip and gave himself a chance to make the one-handed grab just before tumbling over the end line.

Clearly, Smith has taken to the coaching. This team seems to only hear coaching right now. Evidence? Smith’s last one-handed catch like that was ...

“I got one in practice on Wednesday,” Smith said of his first career TD. “It was a goal-line fade, too, but it was with my left hand.”

OK, so maybe it isn’t exactly like practice.

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Saturday’s weather gripped this game. The 22 mph winds out of the north factored for both teams. Iowa twice called timeouts to make sure Maryland would have to punt into the wind.

Passing was like pitching a Whiffle Ball. Quarterback Nate Stanley finished 11 of 22 for 86 yards, a TD and an interception. Maryland entered the game as the Big Ten’s worst passing offense. Two QBs combined on 6 of 16 for 47 yards and an interception.

The Terps ran two plays on Iowa’s side of the 50. One of those was safety Amani Hooker’s interception.

“Iowa did a tremendous job of running the ball and getting moving,” Maryland coach Matt Canada said. “On offense, we didn’t do that. It comes back to having the soundness and not shooting ourselves in the foot.”

The Hawkeyes looked confident in their play and that vibe has filtered into the huddle.

“That’s one thing good football teams do,” said defensive lineman Parker Hesse, who had a sack among his two tackles for loss. “All three phases feed off each other. Our specialists did a great job managing the wind. Offense dominated. They controlled the clock for us and that made it easy for us as a defense to play confidently.

“We know when we get a stop, our offense is going to chew up clock, move the ball and they’re going to score.”

That leads us nicely to the dominant element for Iowa vs. Maryland. No, Iowa still doesn’t have a running back with a 100-yard game this season. Toren Young finished with 96 last week. Ivory Kelly-Martin came off a concussion and had 98 yards Saturday.

The 100-yard thing is cosmetic. Iowa’s running game has been what Iowa has needed it to be. In the face of a blustery wind Saturday, the Hawkeyes needed a lot out of the running game and got a season-high 224 yards on a season-high 52 carries.

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“We’re just here to help the offense as much as we can,” Kelly-Martin said with a laugh. “We’re not looking at stats or anything. We’re looking at we got a ‘W’ today and on to the next game.”

They’re even saying all of the right things.

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

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