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Hawkeye football readying for 'unique' opponent

BY SETH ROBERTS | SEPTEMBER 23, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa football team's win over Pittsburgh last week was pretty memorable.

After all, the Hawkeyes mounted the biggest comeback in school history to shock a Panther team that had led by 17 points in the fourth quarter. The Big Ten Network even deemed Iowa's win the league's Game of the Week.

But by now, the Hawkeyes themselves say they don't remember anything.

"What we have is a 24-hour rule," cornerback Shaun Prater said on Tuesday. "Win or loss, we have to move on to the next game and focus on our next opponent."

Prater admitted achieving that mentality is easier said than done, however.

"It's something you have to force yourself to do," he said. "You can't go back to the game. You can't take it back. Whatever happened, it happened."

So the monumental comeback, the lockdown on special teams, and Micah Hyde's game-ending interception — all those things that will live on in Hawkeye lore — simply "happened." Lessons have been learned, and it's on to the next one.

That could turn out to be a good philosophy, because Iowa's next game is against a Louisiana-Monroe team Kirk Ferentz said runs a playbook that's "unique."

"Offensively, it's like they have two separate offenses," Ferentz said on Tuesday. "They give you some unusual things that we're not used to seeing. It's going to eat up some practice time today, tomorrow, all week, to make sure we get everything covered … If you don't have it covered, you're looking at big plays. That puts a hole in your boat real quick."

Monroe's big plays allowed the Warhawks to pile up 189 yards and put 17 points on the scoreboard in the first quarter while visiting then-No. 23 TCU last weekend. The defending Rose Bowl champion Horned Frogs eventually took control of the game, but not before Monroe sent a very clear message to Ferentz and Company.

"If you look at their last ballgame against TCU … it was 21-17 before the half, [they] missed a field goal, could have pulled within one," he said. "Tough, hard-fought game on the road. All we have to do is look at that film [and] look at our film. It's pretty evident we got a lot of work to do this week."

It's not just the defense that needs to get off on the right foot, either.

Iowa's offense stalled for the better part of three quarters against Pitt, and Monroe's defense — like its offense — is "unique." The Warhawks play a 3-3-5 set, with three linemen, three linebackers, and five defensive backs.

Senior wide receiver Marvin McNutt said he doesn't think the extra man in the backfield will change how he and fellow wideouts Keenan Davis and Kevonte Martin-Manley prepare, however.

"We prepare every week to think we have to make plays. That's key. We have to make plays, whether it's catching balls or blocking," he said. "If they have an extra guy in there and we have to dig him out, that's our job. If there's an extra guy, and we have to make the plays and catch the ball, that's our job as well."

And having everyone do his job from the get-go will rectify Iowa's biggest problem from last week, McNutt said.

"There were three quarters of football in which we didn't play well, and that's a focus this week," he said. "Let's not wait until the last few minutes to start playing well, let's start the game off the right way and execute the best way we can."


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