Iowa Football

Iowa kicker Keith Duncan doesn't seem to mind the weight of the world

After losing the job for two years, Duncan kicked his way into the Big Ten record books vs. Illinois

Iowa Hawkeyes place-kicker Keith Duncan (3) celebrates a field goal with Iowa Hawkeyes punter Colten Rastetter (7) in the second quarter at an Iowa Hawkeyes football game with the Illinois Fighting Illini at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Iowa Hawkeyes place-kicker Keith Duncan (3) celebrates a field goal with Iowa Hawkeyes punter Colten Rastetter (7) in the second quarter at an Iowa Hawkeyes football game with the Illinois Fighting Illini at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Out there somewhere in social media, there’s a video of Iowa kicker Keith Duncan doing some sort of body weight balancing act with 320-pound offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs.

It basically ends up with Duncan balancing Wirfs and his full weight on all fours. Duncan is 5-10, 180, but he is the kicker, so he does have really strong legs.

But still, Wirfs is 320 pounds.

“I started out slow,” said Duncan, who worked his way up to Wirfs. “I started with (wide receiver) Max Cooper. He was good. Kept going. I did (linebacker) Nick Anderson, he’s my roommate. Then, (defensive tackle) Austin Schulte. He’s pretty heavy.”

So, after the walk through on Friday, Duncan pulled Wirfs aside and they did the balancing act thing.

“He didn’t want to do it at first,” Duncan said. “He thought he was going to break me. I said, ‘Trust me, you’ll be good.’”

We all probably should know by now that Keith Duncan is kind of unbreakable.

The junior booted four of six field goals in the Hawkeyes’ 19-10 victory Saturday over Illinois. During the course of a four field goal day, Duncan broke the Big Ten record of 25 field goals in a season and, with two games left, has made 27 of 32 field goals in 2019.

Yes, Kinnick Stadium did grumble a little bit when the field goal kicker went out on a fourth-and-1 from the Illinois 6 in the fourth quarter, but the crowd cheered when the Hawkeyes made Illinois pay for going for a fourth down with Duncan’s 45-yarder and a 13-7 lead just before halftime.

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Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz did think for a minute about the fourth-and-1, but you saw the way the Hawkeyes handled Illinois on defense.

“For a minute I was thinking emotionally and then I started thinking logically, so we got him out there, and if we took a penalty there, so what, it was pretty close, a chip shot,” Ferentz said. “But it was the smart thing to do. It just took me a while to come to that conclusion, I guess.”

Three years ago, Duncan booted a 33-yard game winner to upset then-No. 3 Michigan. Duncan was a true freshman at the time. Iowa likely is thinking this kicker thing is solved for four years. Miguel Recinos was in competition and swooped in and took the job ... for two years. Yes, Duncan was jobless for two years.

“I think sometimes guys don’t compete or practice, prepare the way they need to,” Ferentz said about Duncan after he lost the job. “And he went through a little bit of that, right after it was over.

“To me it’s more about his attitude, the work ethic he’s displayed, and he’s a great teammate. Every day you see him, he’s got a smile on his face.”

The two years out of it is all water under the bridge for Duncan. Now, he shrugs it off. But you know what? He’s still not on scholarship.

That’s OK. Duncan waited two years for this. He might get crushed while trying to balance an offensive lineman for an TikTok video, but the two-year absence was 27 field goals ago.

“We’ve got a game left to go,” Duncan said about a scholarship. “We’ll worry about that after the season. Right now, the focus is on trying to be a 10-win team.”

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

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