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Notebook: Inconsistency, special teams, and other notes

BY DANNY PAYNE | NOVEMBER 12, 2014 5:00 AM

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Kirk Ferentz entered his regular Tuesday press conference a few minutes late, sat behind the microphone, welcomed everyone, and began to take questions.

One reporter asked if Ferentz was able to put a finger on an exact reason Iowa has been so inconsistent.

“No. Uh-uh,” the Iowa head coach said.

Iowa fans know their team came out two weeks ago and beat the snot out of Northwestern 48-7, only to follow up with a 51-14 loss at Minnesota Nov. 8.

“Thinking about the past, living in the past, this [week] is just going to be another example,” linebacker Quinton Alston said. “We can’t be thinking about Minnesota this week. We look at the game plan and we go in our meeting room, we’re not talking about Minnesota, we’re talking about Illinois.”

Iowa’s inconsistency runs deeper than just the last two weeks. There have been games in which Iowa’s thrown the ball 50-plus times and others, such as the last two, in which the Hawkeyes don’t attempt even half that.

Even more, Iowa began the season with one of the Big Ten’s best rushing defenses, but it has since dropped to eighth in the league, allowing close to 155 yards per game.

Defensive tackle Carl Davis said fixing the mistakes comes down to execution, something his teammate on the other side of the ball expanded on.

“You need 11 guys doing the same thing, doing the right thing on every play, and maybe we’re not getting as much of that, and that’s on all of us,” running back Mark Weisman said. “We have to know the bigger concept. Everyone’s working together on every play, whether they know it or not.”

Field position a concern

Following the loss at Minnesota, Ferentz was very critical of the Hawkeyes’ play on special teams. And rightfully so.

On average, Iowa started its drives at its own 20. Even more, the Hawkeyes failed to start a drive anywhere close to Minnesota territory.

The Gophers pinned Iowa inside its own 20 each time they punted and averaged a net of 38 yards per punt.

Jonathan Parker dropped two kickoffs, and punter Connor Kornbrath had a punt go just 14 yards after being partially blocked.

“We’ve got to play better on special teams. If nothing else, you’ve got to break even there,” Ferentz said. “You can’t put yourself in the hole.”

Perry done for remainder of season

Linebacker Travis Perry suffered a leg injury shortly after the Hawkeyes scored their second touchdown against Minnesota. Iowa announced Monday that Perry will miss the remainder of the Big Ten season.

Perry could be back for Iowa’s bowl game, should the Hawkeyes get an invitation. The junior has recorded 19 tackles and 1 sack this season.

The Urbandale native started at middle linebacker against Northwestern on Nov. 1, and Alston shifted to the weak side. Cole Fisher took Perry’s spot as backup middle linebacker on Iowa’s most recent two-deeps.

“He’s got an injury that’s going to take at least four weeks to get healed up, four or five weeks,” Ferentz said. “Tough break for him, certainly a young guy who’s been doing well for us.”

Canzeri ready to go

Jordan Canzeri has been in and out of Iowa’s lineup since fall camp broke. Ferentz said he’s suffered a few bumps and bruises that have limited his production all year.

Canzeri, a junior, has missed two games, and he has carried the ball only 54 times for 219 yards this year. If there was a positive to take from the Minnesota game, it was that he got another week of rest.

Had the game been competitive, Canzeri could have played. Ferentz expects him to be ready to go Saturday at Illinois.

“I don’t think putting Walter Payton in would have changed things [Nov. 8],” Ferentz said. “There’s no sense having him go backwards. So we expect him to be healthier, and hopefully, he’ll be part of our rotation Saturday.”

Follow @dannyapayne on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa football team.


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