Ferentz defends late-game call


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With 52 seconds on the clock, 67 yards to the end zone, and the game tied at 24, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz made the unpopular decision to swallow his remaining time-out and play for overtime against Ohio State on Nov. 14.

On Tuesday, the 11-year head coach contended he has no regrets about the situation, especially considering his starting quarterback was making his first career start, and his field goal kicker had missed a 22-yard attempt earlier in the game.

Iowa failed to turn its first overtime possession into any points, though, leading to the Buckeyes’ 27-24 win.

“There [were] two ways to play the situation,” Ferentz said. “We played it one way. And if we had won in overtime, it would have been a nonissue. When you lose games, everybody has got to find a reason to [criticize] — that’s just how it goes.”

As he did after the game, Ferentz again iterated at his Tuesday press conference that his team’s field position played a major role in his decision.

The Hawkeyes started the drive on their own 33-yard line, and theoretically had to gain 55 yards in 52 seconds — with only one time-out — to give kicker Daniel Murray a 30-yard field goal attempt.

Once he factored in Ohio State’s defense and the possibility of a turnover, Ferentz made his decision.

“I’d like to get us across midfield or up over [our] 40 for sure. That was kind of our thinking,” the head coach said. “If you get up over the 40, I think it’s a little bit more realistic.”

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Earlier in the fourth quarter, redshirt freshman quarterback James Vandenberg threw a pick-six to Ohio State defensive end Thaddeus Gibson. At the time, it would have put the Buckeyes up 14 with only 5:40 remaining.

But an offside penalty on the Ohio State defense took the touchdown off the board and gave Iowa a first down.

The Hawkeyes went on to score the game-tying touchdown six plays later.

“That No. 90 [Gibson] got down that field pretty quickly with the ball in his arms,” Ferentz said. “I guess I’ve got to think about those things, too.”

After the game, junior Derrell Johnson-Koulianos said that as a receiver, he wanted his head coach to let the offense try to win the game. But the junior said, “That’s the coach’s job. That’s what they’re paid to do.”

On Tuesday, Ferentz said he understood — and even liked — his offensive players’ thinking this way. He countered by saying, “But I also think about winning the game. That’s the most important thing.”

Injuries piling up

Ferentz wasted no time on Tuesday ruling junior quarterback Ricky Stanzi (high ankle sprain) out for Saturday’s game against Minnesota, saying, “He’s still pretty swollen and not moving around.”
As for Brandon Wegher, who missed the Ohio State game with what Ferentz called “internal complications,” the head coach said he’s hopeful his true freshman running back will play on Saturday.

The same goes from linebacker Jeremiha Hunter, who left the Ohio State game with an ankle injury and didn’t practice on Tuesday. Ferentz said Hunter’s injury isn’t as severe as the ones Stanzi, tight end Tony Moeaki, and running back Adam Robinson have suffered this season.

“I wouldn’t call it that because he has a chance this week,” he said.

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