Plenty of mishaps to correct for Hawkeye football


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Days after plentiful mishaps led to a 44-41 loss at Iowa State last weekend, the Hawks are retooling in advance of this week’s game at Kinnick.

Hawkeye mishaps included — but weren’t limited to — dropped passes, missed tackles, and blown coverage. Iowa also largely failed to capitalize on the Cyclones’ mistakes, scoring just 10 points on three Iowa State turnovers.

The Hawkeyes say they won’t wipe away the memories of a performance like that anytime soon.
“We’ll watch the film and see all the mistakes we made on both sides of the ball — and special teams — that could have changed this game either way,” quarterback James Vandenberg said after the sobering triple-overtime defeat. “The key is learning from it. We have to move onto the next challenge, which is Pittsburgh.”

That challenge should prove just as formidable as last week’s, even without the added pressure of an intrastate rivalry.

The Panthers, playing under first-year coach Todd Graham, will enter Kinnick Stadium on Saturday with a 2-0 record. The team’s second victory was only a 6-point win against Maine of the Championship Subdivision and even Graham admitted Pittsburgh was “thrilled to be 2-0, even though we probably played down to the level of competition.”

Still, Iowa will see running back Ray Graham, the nation’s leading rusher at 161 yards per game.
The Hawkeyes also faced a game-changer at running back the last time they met the Panthers, but LeSean McCoy — now with the Philadelphia Eagles — was held to 78 yards on 18 carries in Pittsburgh’s 21-20 win over Iowa on Sept. 20, 2008.

But that was a much different Hawkeye defense. Only three players still with Iowa — Shaun Prater, Broderick Binns, and Jordan Bernstine — registered tackles in that game.

The 2011 edition of the defense surrendered 473 yards of offense to the Cyclones, including 194 on the ground — and Iowa State doesn’t have a running back nearly the caliber of Ray Graham.

Such defensive struggles have been scarce recently. Iowa ranked among the top 25 nationally in total defense each of the last three years (25th in 2010, 10th in 2009, 12th in 2008).

These Hawkeyes won’t come close to similar results without heavy improvement. And with Ray Graham coming to town, the need for improvement becomes expedited.

Linebacker James Morris said after the Iowa State game he didn’t “have a magic formula” for the Hawkeyes’ woes.

“I could say we could get off blocks a little better,” he said. “We could tackle a little better, for starters.”

It might be as simple as having a better week of practice. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said the Cyclones appeared to make more progress from their first game to their second than his squad did.

The Hawkeyes can’t afford to “lose” again in practice this week.

“We just have to get better,” defensive tackle Mike Daniels said. “Watch the film. Learn from it. It doesn’t get much further than that.”

Follow DI Pregame Editor Jordan Garretson on Twitter.

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