Notebook: Hawkeyes focused on finishing games

BY MATT CABEL | OCTOBER 23, 2013 5:00 AM

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It was well publicized over the weekend that the Iowa football team would boast a 7-0 record if games were only 30 minutes long.

But the Hawks are not. And Iowa is instead 4-3 on the season, with back-to-back losses in the last two games that it led at halftime. The Hawkeyes have, in fact, won every first half. As a result, head coach Kirk Ferentz is focused on playing games for the whole 60 minutes.

“We didn’t finish it up,” Ferentz said about the Oct. 19 loss at Ohio State. “We didn’t get it done. We couldn’t finish the game, and [Ohio State] did — that’s why they won. So we have to move on and see what we can do this week to be prepared to play 60 good minutes.”

The team took a 17-10 lead into halftime against Ohio State and a 14-10 lead against Michigan State before losing 34-24 and 26-14. Safety Tanner Miller said the Hawkeyes need to work on improving the “little details” and carrying over momentum from half to half.

“When we have the momentum going into halftime, we know that the other team is going to come out swinging and give us their best punch,” Miller said. “We have to be better prepared for that and really key in on finishing games.”

Linebacker James Morris offered a different perspective on the situation, comparing the team’s performances in a game’s quarters, halves, and even with individual plays as battles.

“You might win the majority of the battles in the first half, but just because you did doesn’t necessarily mean you will in the second half,” Morris said. “When the second half comes out, maybe we’re not winning enough of those one-on-one, those one play battles.”

Three-tight end set here to stay

Iowa’s offense turned heads on Oct. 19 when it revealed an offensive set consisting of three tight ends lining up together on the offensive line. The results spoke for themselves: tight ends C.J. Fiedorowicz and Jake Duzey scored touchdowns of 2 and 85 yards, respectively.

The team was told of the addition to the offense last week, and the Hawkeyes think it will be around for a while because of the matchup advantages it creates. Cornerbacks are forced to cover the tight ends, who believe they are more than capable of out-blocking the smaller defenders.

“We’re all excited about it,” Duzey said. “We’re all out there competing every day, all five of us. We can all play, so we love being out there together. It’s working well.”

Rudock given freedom to audible at the line of scrimmage

Iowa’s offense has been known at times for its predictability, particularly toward its run-first offense. But this season, quarterback Jake Rudock has been seen changing plays at the line of scrimmage in numerous games.

“You can’t just walk up there and always run a play,” Rudock said. “If you’re running right, and they put eight guys on the right side, obviously, you don’t want to go that way.”

It’s something that has come to the quarterback from experience. Rudock also credits understanding why and what offensive coordinator Greg Davis is thinking when he calls certain plays as influencing whether he chooses to use an audible.

“Coach Davis will say, ‘This is the look, this is what we want to run against; if you don’t like it, you can check to this, this, or this,’” Rudock said. “That extra study — understanding that not every play will be the perfect play, but you might have to set up a better play, [is beneficial]. It may not be the best possible play we can run, but it’s better than getting no yards on a play.”

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