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Iowa Football Notebook: Iowa's offense continues to struggle

BY CODY GOODWIN | NOVEMBER 06, 2013 5:00 AM

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Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz asked a favor of the media on Tuesday.

“You know, correct me, go back and look — I haven’t looked in a while — but I think we were like a yard-per-carry better than Ohio State,” he said. “I might be wrong on that, but we have a pretty healthy average over there running the ball, or maybe it was a yard over what they’ve been giving up.”

It was, in fact, the latter. Ohio State, as of this writing, surrenders just under 3 yards a carry. But it’s not as if Ferentz said this out of the blue. It was his initial response to a question about Iowa’s struggling running game.

“I’m not overly thrilled with what we’re doing right now,” Ferentz said. “We need to amp that up a little bit.”

He’s referring to the 101.8 rushing yards per game his team has averaged since it slapped 246 yards on Minnesota.

The Iowa (5-4, 2-3 Big Ten) offense as a whole has struggled since its 23-7 win over Minnesota on Sept. 28 — particularly in the red zone. In their last four games, the Hawkeyes have reached the red zone just 11 times, resulting in 4 touchdowns, 5 field goals, and two drives that ended with fourth-down incompletions.

Even more telling is that just three of those red zone entries have occurred in the second half, with just a single field goal to show for them.

This kind of play has frustrated players and coaches alike. Ferentz gave credit to the defenses Iowa has played during its last four games. But members of the offensive line say otherwise.

“That starts up front with us,” starting right tackle Brett Van Sloten said. “We’re not doing our job, giving guys like Mark Weisman and Damon Bullock an opportunity to do what they do best. That falls on our shoulders.”

Defensive line meshing while Alvis sits

Ferentz said Tuesday that Dominic Alvis would continue to sit with an injury, stating that the Hawks will continue to evaluate him for another two weeks with the hopes of getting him back into the defensive line rotation for the final two games of the season.

The vacancy has allowed a myriad of other players to gain playing time and establish themselves as serviceable defensive linemen. Starting defensive tackle Carl Davis said the sans-Alvis line has stepped up in his absence.

“Mike Hardy has came in and has been really productive,” he said. “He made a couple of tackles last game. He’s getting better every week. That’s what we’re looking for.”

Alvis, despite sitting the last two games, has accounted for 28 tackles this season — 5 behind the line of scrimmage. His most prominent replacements, Hardy and Nate Meier, have combined for 25 tackles and 2 sacks. Both of them have seen time in each of the nine games this season.

“We practice and rotate with each other. We know each other pretty well and what each other’s tendencies are,” Davis said. “No matter if you’re a one or a two, we know how you’ll play during a game.”

Iowa-Purdue tickets are going for really cheap

The Black and Gold faithful who have yet to purchase a ticket to this weekend’s game in West Lafayette need not worry. There’s still plenty of tickets readily available — and for cheap, too.

Tickets to the Iowa-Purdue game this weekend at Ross Ade Stadium are available on StubHub, the popular ticket-exchange website, for less than $1. Ticket prices for the upcoming matchup between the Boilermakers and Hawkeyes have been shockingly low as early as mid-October.

The Boilermakers (1-7, 0-4) sit eighth in average home-game attendance in the Big Ten, bringing in 52,835 people per game.


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