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Iowa Notebook: James Morris honored, Tevaun Smith praised, and fake punts come up once again

BY BEN ROSS | OCTOBER 30, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Wisconsin football team will travel to Iowa City this weekend for the first time since 2010. If you can recall, Iowa lost that game by a single point and fell victim to a fake punt in the fourth quarter of the game. Iowa has fallen for numerous fake punts since then, and some players said that particular trick play was the catalyst for others to follow.

“That was the start to the fake-punt era,” Iowa safety Tanner Miller said.

Iowa has had two fake punts executed against it twice this season — once during the Northern Illinois game, and again against Michigan State. Both contests ended in losses.

Morris honored again

Iowa senior linebacker and captain James Morris was named the Lott IMPACT Player of the week following his performance against Northwestern, which featured 8 tackles, 2 sacks, and a fumble recovery in the win. Morris was also named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week following Iowa’s victory over Northwestern.

Morris is one of 20 quarterfinalists for the trophy, which is the only major college award given based on character and playing ability. IMPACT stands for Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, and Tenacity.

Morris leads Iowa in tackles for a loss (7.5), sacks (4), and interceptions (3). The Solon native said he’s been able to be so effective this year largely because of the experience he’s gained as a four-year starter.

“It’s huge, probably the biggest component as a football player,” Morris said about the experience he’s reaped on the field. “Things you try to improve on — size, speed, the work habits of a football player — the one thing you can’t get unless you’re on the field is experience. It helps good decision-makers maximize their abilities.”

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz echoed what his middle linebacker said, mentioning Morris’ name in the breath as former Hawkeye greats and noting that experience is a big factor that goes into his success.

“I think we’ve had two other guys who have done that twice (Jonathan Babineaux and Adrian Clayborn). Happy for him,” Ferentz said. “One thing about James Morris — anything he has, he’ll use. Experience is a part of that. Some guys just kind of float through life, so experience isn’t that big a deal. That’s not the case with him. He’s one of those guys that goes back and reflects on everything and studies and improves from it. He’s just a heck of a football player.”

Smith praised

Ferentz awarded praise to other players on the squad in addition to Morris. With Wisconsin’s Jared Abbrederis — arguably the best receiver in the conference — coming to town, Iowa’s head coach said he brings a lot of problems for the Iowa defense.

But he also said he sees some tendencies of his own wide receiver in Tevaun Smith that could mimic the incredible success Abbrederis has had as a four-year starter in Madison. The two both wear No. 4, which is just one of their similarities between the Wisconsin senior and Iowa sophomore, Ferentz said.

“Tevaun, since he’s starting right now, we rank him as our No. 2 guy for obvious reasons. But he’s a young guy,” Ferentz said. “If our 4 can become like their 4, that would be a good thing. I’d really like to see that happen. Tevaun is improving. That’s possible.”

 


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