Don’t panic: When in doubt, count on Iowa’s defense
The fans were booing at Kinnick Stadium. This team has won 10 in a row, but you’d think the Hawkeyes were among Saturday’s upset victims, not winners by 10.
Sure, Iowa was down 14-7 at halftime, but even after the game, Hawkeyes fans still wanted more on Twitter.
“Please make the boo birds louder please.”
“Going to be a stress-filled affair every single Saturday isn’t it?”
The usernames are removed to protect the innocent-but-frustrated.
Last week, the top 10 had some close calls. This week, No. 7 lost. So did No. 9, No. 14 and No. 18. Those last two are rivals of No. 5 Iowa — Wisconsin and Iowa State.
But for Iowa fans?
“Winning is more of a relief than satisfaction.”
“I think you’ve heard me say it before, winning is never easy, and that certainly was the case today,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “First and foremost, we are happy to get the victory, and finish the month 4-0.”
Sure, but back on Twitter …
“Can the offense actually win a game when the defense can’t?”
“It’d be great if our team wasn’t all defense and punting.”
Right now, Iowa is all wins — does it matter how?
This isn’t new to Hawkeyes football — close games, playing “down” to the competition, flirting with a bad loss — so unless you are, you’ve had time to — in the words of Ricky Stanzi — love it or leave it.
Be in the moment, stop looking ahead, playing “what if” and embrace that message on the cover of “The Hawkeyes’ — sorry Hitchhiker’s — Guide to the Galaxy”:
It turns out, that’s also the name of a Coldplay song, a 1988 movie and is emblazoned on the dashboard of newly single Elon Musk’s Tesla floating around in space.
So perhaps “DON’T PANIC” needs to be added to the rotation of messages displayed on the scoreboard at Kinnick Stadium. Like when they tell you to “make some noise,” “smile” for the dentist cam or “pump it up” for a burrito. (But keep this, which surely induces the opposition’s panic.)
“Yeah, you always worry about people pressing too much when you’re playing from behind,” Ferentz said, talking about his players, not the fans. “You worry about that.’”
And that Iowa punting and defense? Well, Colorado State’s Ryan Stonehouse got most of the hype (and better kicks) on Saturday’s broadcast while living legend Tory Taylor was labeled “not chopped liver.” And the D did the deeds it’s known for — right on time.
Linebacker Jack Campbell recovered a fumble at the 6 that allowed Iowa to erase that 7-point deficit and never trail again when Tyrone Tracy ran it in on a reverse.
“I feel like the defense is pretty locked in,” Campbell said.
He finished with a career-high 18 tackles.
“When you get a spark play like that, you want to capitalize, and if you can do it sooner than later, that’s even better,” Ferentz said. “To come away with a touchdown was really big. It was a great call, really executed well, and guys did a good job there. So that’s part of football, is just cashing in on opportunities. That’s why the team football aspect of the defense sets us up in a good situation. You’d sure rather come out with a touchdown than a field goal and keep building off that.”
While Campbell’s tackle total was the most by a Hawkeye since Anthony Hitchens had 19 against Iowa State in 2012, Logan Lee, Yahya Black, Noah Shannon and Jestin Jacobs either tied or surpassed their career highs as well.
“Give our defense a lot of credit today, what they did especially in the second half, kind of buckling down,” Ferentz said. “Jack Campbell did a great job, was all over the place.“
Iowa has 51 points on 9 takeaways this season and has outscored opponents 31-3 in the third quarter. With this defense, it’s not a matter of “if,” but when.
That’s not to say the Iowa sideline was counting on it.
“We certainly got stress, which is going to help us,” Ferentz said.
Every single Saturday.
“It is what it is, and you’ve got to live with it,” Ferentz said.
Because as a fan of the Iowa Hawkeyes, if you’re not happy in this moment — a 4-0 start, 10 consecutive wins overall, a top 5 ranking and a defense that defies logic — when can you ever be?