Iowa's 6-0 start doesn't have Ferentz satisfied yet

BY foxsports • October 16, 2009

What's supposed to make him miserable is giving Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz pleasure.

That seems fair.




After all, what should be making him smile is instead making him miserable.

Deep in film study for a 12 p.m. Saturday kickoff at Wisconsin, Ferentz is getting a kick out of the throwback nature of the images dancing across his video screen.

"We're both kind of dinosaurs," he said of the old-school Big Ten matchup against the Badgers. "We're old-fashioned and out of vogue at this given point, but that's OK. I enjoy watching their film."

His own team's film? Uh, not so much.

Sure, Iowa is 6-0, joining Alabama as the only already-bowl-eligible team in the country.
And, yes, the Hawkeyes are riding a 10-game winning streak, trailing only Florida's 15-game streak as the longest in the country.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the only way anyone not on prescription medicine would dare mention the Hawkeyes in the same breath as the Gators or Crimson Tide.
Go ahead, take umbrage, Iowa fans.

Your coach certainly won't.

That's because he's charged with squeezing victories out of a team with a quarterback who's had an interception returned for a touchdown three times in the last four games and a running game averaging more than one yard less per-carry than last season.

Defense looms as the obvious reason Iowa is winning, and the Hawkeyes are indeed No. 1 in the Big Ten in turnover margin and against the pass.

But even elements of that don't make sense.

Iowa has scored only 60 points off the 19 turnovers the defense has forced, so it's certainly not maximizing the impact of the mistakes it gains.

And just how the defense is No. 1 against the pass is a bit of a mystery given that Iowa is only eighth in the league in quarterback sacks.


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Now you know why Ferentz says, probably only half-jokingly, "I'm miserable most of the time. But it's an enjoyable miserable."

Sure, it is, because only last season at this time the Hawkeyes were 3-3 and losing every close game in which they were involved.

"The sky was really falling," Ferentz said. "I mean, it was falling in right now. But we're pretty much the same team we were at this time last year. We're certainly further along win-loss wise. You could probably argue (we're) a little better team. But I don't think we're that much different."

Iowa righted itself a year ago to upset then-unbeaten Penn State and thumped South Carolina in the Outback Bowl, registering the only victory by the Big Ten in a 1-6 postseason that made the league a national laughingstock.

If that team had returned intact, no one would be surprised by the Hawkeyes' showing so far.

But Doak Walker Award winner Shonn Greene and his 1,800 rushing yards left for the NFL a year early, and Big Ten defensive linemen of the year Mitch King graduated.
Greene's supposed successor, Jewel Hampton, suffered a season-ending knee injury in August, leaving Ferentz with two freshman running backs to rely upon.

Iowa's top receiver, tight end Tony Moeaki, played only one full game of Iowa's first five. And its leading pass-catcher from last season, Darrell Johnson-Koulianos, has been such a disappointment he doesn't even start.

An assortment of injuries has forced constant shuffling on the offensive line, keeping the best of the bunch, tackle Bryan Bulaga, on the sidelines for the trip to Penn State.
None of that has mattered, yet all of it has mattered.

The Hawkeyes have continued to win, but it's been a struggle even against the most mundane of opponents.

Had Iowa not blocked two field goals in the final seven seconds — yes, two, since Northern Iowa recovered the first behind the line of scrimmage — it could have lost its opener at home.

And after their stunning win at Happy Valley, the Hawkeyes returned home and flirted with disaster in a 24-21 win over Arkansas State.


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