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Iowa football looking to score touchdowns, not field goals

BY MATT CABEL | NOVEMBER 07, 2013 5:00 AM

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It’s been seven quarters of regulation football since the Iowa Hawkeyes have scored a touchdown. If not for a C.J. Fiedorowicz touchdown in overtime on Oct. 26, the outlook for the Iowa football team could be quite different.

Thanks to the tight end, the Hawkeyes have a 5-4 record, including a 2-3 mark in Big Ten play, and they will play against Purdue this weekend, which has won only one game. With match ups against Michigan and Nebraska looming after the Boilermakers, returning to the postseason may not have been in the equation for the Hawkeyes.

But that’s not the case. The case instead is that Iowa has struggled to find the end zone all season, particularly when it enters the red zone.

“We just need to finish in the red zone,” quarterback Jake Rudock said. “We can’t settle just for 3 points, we have to go and get touchdowns. Obviously, that makes a big difference between having 6 points and 14 points — that’s a big difference.”

Against Wisconsin, Iowa started numerous drives in Wisconsin territory in the first quarter but left the quarter with only a field goal to show for it, a fact that head coach Kirk Ferentz said was frustrating for the entirety of the game.

“You play a team like that, a team that's as good as they are offensively, and you get down there, you need to make due with your opportunities, and we just didn't have any luck there,” Ferentz said Tuesday at his weekly press conference. “Three trips down there, and you come away with three field goals; certainly a touchdown would have made a big difference, and then if you can convert a couple of them, it would have been really good.”

Rudock said Tuesday that it’s “hard to put a finger on” what is keeping the Hawkeyes out of the end zone, saying that it’s something that the team just has to do.

“We need to not take no for an answer and understand, ‘Hey, we need to get in the end zone’ and understand and have the confidence that we will,” the quarterback said. “That’s just every position: [the] offense, defense has to have confidence in what they’re doing.”

But Rudock and the passing game aren’t the only ones responsible for not scoring touchdowns. Besides halfback Damon Bullock’s touchdown in the first quarter against Northwestern — the last one the team scored — the rushing game hasn’t enjoyed the success it did earlier in the season.

“Safeties are coming down a little harder, filling in a little harder than they typically do when we watched them against other teams, but that’s expected with the way that we had been running the ball,” running back Mark Weisman said. “It’s something that’s going to happen, something you have to do — you have to break those tackles.”

Weisman hasn’t scored a rushing touchdown in five games and hasn’t rushed for more than 60 yards since the team played Minnesota on Sept. 28. The game was also the last time he had more than 15 carries. The former fullback has been hampered by numerous injuries since the team played Michigan State.

One might say that Weisman and the corps of running backs are at fault, but the offensive lineman disagree. They’re blaming themselves. With the Boilermakers looming, it should result in a complete performance from every member of the offense, from lineman, to quarterback and receiver.

“The coaches can tell us who to block and what to do on each play, but it comes down to us executing the game plan on Saturday,” Brett Van Sloten said. “We have to do a better job, which I didn’t feel we did against Wisconsin, but we need to do a better job of executing and letting the chips fall as they may.”


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