Iowa Football

Iowa football mailbag: Favorite Cy-Hawk trophy? The one Iowa State fans tore up, of course

Can Michael Sleep-Dalton knock Ron Coluzzi off the top of Iowa's punter power rankings?

Iowa State players hoist the Cy-Hawk trophy after their 44-41 triple-overtime win over Iowa at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011, in Ames. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Iowa State players hoist the Cy-Hawk trophy after their 44-41 triple-overtime win over Iowa at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011, in Ames. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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Yes, I know this isn’t technically mail.

 

 

This is a great question.

Here’s what new Iowa punter Michael Sleep-Dalton is up against:

— After a fine start to the 2016 punting season, Coluzzi, a graduate transfer from Central Michigan, took the “shield” and “gunners” on the punt team to dinner. He had to wait to take the rest out because, you know, money.

— 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).”

Coluzzi named a football “Naomi.”

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Sleep-Dalton has Australia working for him. But if he keeps doing what he’s doing — 45.8 yards on seven punts so far — Sleepy (I heard someone call him that, maybe Nate Stanley) has a chance to be as cool as Ron.

 

 

Awesome question. First, let me go on a rant.

Where have the trophy runs gone? Well, Jerry Kill and Wisconsin ruined them. In 2013, Gary Anderson served as the Badgers’ coaching prop. The Badgers won and ran around TCF Bank Stadium to fake cut down the goal posts. Some Gophers actually got in Wisconsin players’ way. It was a whole thing.

So then, a lot of schools moved trophies off the sidelines and into the end zones or some other neutral area.

Buncha horsebleep.

Kirk Ferentz has talked vividly about his first experience with a trophy run. The Gophers got the Hawkeyes in 1981 and made the sprint. Ferentz didn’t know about it and couldn’t believe it.

When the Gophers clubbed Iowa in 2014, the Hawkeyes left Floyd of Rosedale on the sideline and the Gophers counted down and sprinted for it. The Hawkeyes were on their way to the locker room. There was no fracas.

My impression from that was Ferentz wants his players to experience the low, so they know how it feels and will fight against ever again having that feeling.

I kind of think that’s still the case.

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“Yeah, it is memorable, for sure,” Ferentz said. “There’s probably another word for that too, I think, right?”

Anyway, after the UW decided to get lame with trophy runs, then-Badgers running back Melvin Gordon said what we all were thinking.

“I don’t like that. From history, you see the videos; they run over and take the axe,” he said. “That’s kind of what makes the game fun. It hurts when they do take it, but I think that’s just what makes the game when you’re able to chop down the goal posts.”

Here we go:

1. The one Cyclones fans tore apart after their 44-41 three-OT victory in 2011 — This is more of an “in memoriam” rather than a statement on aesthetics.

It was one of those white footballs that’s autograph-friendly glued to a couple of metal posts on top of what might’ve been the old, old Cy-Hawk wooden base.

It was 44-41 in three OTs. The trophy could’ve been the hull of a battleship and Cyclones fans would’ve found a way to tear it apart.

It was an ugly, stopgap trophy and it got torn apart. I give ISU or whomever credit. This was the stand-in for the pewter family folly that — this is going to get me booed off the stage — is actually growing on me over time. I could see ... no, let’s not even go there. OK, I could see both sides being allowed to paint the pewter people in the school colors.

 
 

2. Old, old Des Moines Athletic Club bowling-ish trophy — This is actually my favorite.

No frills. It’s a glorified bowling trophy with trophy stock football and football figure on top. Totally haphazard. Iowa State is a glorious design school. This still happened.

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Here’s a quick story that will certainly get me booed offstage: After the Cyclones won in Iowa City in 1998, there was confusion. Iowa was a 35-point favorite. I’m not sure that’s exact, but it was in that neighborhood. I don’t think Iowa brought the trophy that day.

Anyway, Cyclones win and it’s crazy. I somehow ended up in the stairwell that ran up to the old locker rooms under the east bleachers. It was just Cy-Hawk and me while Dan McCarney gave a speech about perseverance and how anything could happen.

I’m looking at the trophy and thinking, “Wow, that’s a lot of loose score plates and, whoa, how did the little stiff-arming dude survive that?”

And I named the stiff-arm guy “Zeke.”

 
 

3. Current Cy-Hawk — It’s fine. I’d go another direction. Something more organic and “of” the schools, but this is fine. It’s big and looks heavy. We’re good here.

 

 

I haven’t had a chance to see a lot of Urban Meyer in the Fox studio, but I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve seen. In one segment, he talked about how he treated different teams. Ones he thought weren’t confident, they received a softer, gentler kind of coaching. Confident teams? He challenged those and pushed them to their limits.

I liked that insight. He’s an incredibly successful coach and will be great at USC.

First, I would argue that Iowa doesn’t do this. My argument would be can anyone remember the last time Iowa had a receiver reach double-digit receptions in a game?

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Time’s up. It wasn’t all that long ago. Nick Easley had 10 against UNI last year. Still, point stands. It’s not a common occurrence.

Iowa doesn’t often feature players in the passing game. Tight end T.J. Hockenson topped out at seven receptions last season. During his record-setting season in 2011, Marvin McNutt caught 82 passes for 1,315 yards and 12 TDs. He never hit double digits in a game.

Let’s give this a shot.

1. Wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette is my No. 1. He has speed that can kill you. The 12 pounds he put on during the offseason will help him get off the line of scrimmage and be physical.

2. Wide receiver Brandon Smith is a bad matchup for a lot of corners. I love that offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz is challenging corners with Smith’s size and leaping ability. He’s drawn at least three pass interference penalties already this season.

3. Since last November, you can make an argument that running back Mekhi Sargent hasn’t been Iowa’s most consistent playmaker.

4. Wide receiver Tyrone Tracy likes to get his feet on the ground after a catch. He can make defenders miss and has speed to go down the seam and make the secondary sweat.

5. Wide receiver Nico Ragaini has quick feet. If he gets a defender into a two-way go situation, he’s shown the quickness in the first two games to take advantage.

6. I’m totally intrigued by running back Tyler Goodson. There’s not going to be a redshirt.

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7. I’ve been impressed with wide receiver Oliver Martin’s run after the catch. He’s got escape-ability and runs to green.

That’s a lot, I know. My big statement here is that Smith-Marsette has earned No. 1 through two games. I’d try to get him a half dozen touches a game, not including kick return.

 

 

I think that’d be bad. 1) Did he have to run for his life all day? 2) What happened to ISU’s running game? The Cyclones’ backs are new. We still don’t know what they’re capable of. 3) I think Purdy can move chains, but can he take one 25 yards for a score?

Would ISU want Purdy running the ball in the double digits? When QBs take off, they’re totally hittable and defenses love hitting the QB.

Just ask them.

“Every time he’s out of the pocket, we’re going to treat him like a running back,” Iowa cornerback Michael Ojemudia said. “We’re going to take a full opportunity to put a hit on him, but we’re going to be smart if he’s sliding. But yeah, if he wants to take it downfield, we’re going to treat him like a running back.”

 

 

Love this question. I also have thoughts like these.

I think there are a bunch of different “kinds” of QBs. Iowa got a lot of mileage out of Ricky Stanzi and C.J. Beathard. I think those two had a lot of “guy’s guy” in them. I think Jake Rudock was more of a “QB coach” quarterback. He was drilled and skilled, but did he go to the Ped Mall with the boys for a few pitchers of ... Shasta.

 
 

You already know Stanley’s thoughts on downtown Iowa City. It’s not his thing.

Beathard was hamstrung in 2016 by a receiving corps that was injured, didn’t have depth and wasn’t tied in like it needed to be. I thought he wore that as well as he could. That’s Beathard. He was mostly Icy Hot and athletic tape in 2015, but he led an undefeated season.

You know Stanley has attitude. You can’t be a QB and not be able to bust peoples’ chops. You need a personality. It’s kind of like you’re running for office. You need your guys to believe in you. I think we don’t see a lot of this with Stanley.

Different people. I’d take Stanley’s conscientiousness. I’d take Beathard’s football moxie. I’d take Stanley’s size. I’d take Beathard’s athleticism.

To answer the question, yeah, I think they would. The “guy’s guy” gets to make mistakes and then try to come back and fix them. I think mostly, though, it’s big wins. If Stanley comes through this year, it’ll be “Yeah, that backup for the 49ers used to play for the Hawkeyes.” That’s just how sports and recency work. Plus, I did say “big wins.” I think you guys are still into those.

 

 

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I’m answering this one because I need to correct Kevin. According to Pro Football Focus, Iowa ran five post routes in 2018 and completed two. You have to give Kevin points for picking up on the fact that they’re pretty scarce for the Hawkeyes (posts were 1 percent of their routes last year).

I’m kidding with Kevin. Great observation.

I do think Iowa is leaning toward “run to pass.” What better way to get defenders off the line of scrimmage than throw the ball over their heads? One thing to keep in mind, though, is how much Iowa/Ferentz/Ferentz values being balanced.

It feels like Iowa has had more success in the air this year, right? Iowa has run 80 times for 407 yards and has passed 64 for 496. Still, pretty much balanced.

This is something to watch. Iowa’s going to start seeing real defenses now, starting with the Cyclones this week. The Hawkeyes averaged 5.09 yards per carry in the first two games. If they’re able to say that after Saturday, they probably won.

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

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