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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Running attack is Iowa’s MO

Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz will face off against his former pupil, Arizona head coach Mike Stoops, this Saturday. However, the Wildcats’ offense may seem familiar as both teams center their attack around the run.

So far this season, Arizona (2-0) has found tremendous success with the ground game, outrushing its opponents 611 total yards to 141 and outscoring them four touchdowns to one. Meanwhile, the Hawkeyes (2-0) have historically been known for their running game and are currently hurting opponents with nearly 140 yards of rushing in each of their first two wins.

However, with two first-year backs as Iowa’s primary rushing threat, Ferentz is hoping his team will not have to rely too heavily on its running game.

“”We have some very capable running backs in our backfield right now,”” Ferentz said in his press conference Tuesday. “”But the idea is to score points and we have to find other ways to move the football. I am hopeful that our passing game will be better than it was last year — more efficient and more effective.””

In charge of maintaining this type of passing game is quarterback Ricky Stanzi. Through Iowa’s first two games, the junior threw for five touchdowns with a passing percentage of 58.8 and throwing just two interceptions.

Stanzi is in his second year as the Hawkeyes’ primary quarterback and is looking to improve on his sophomore year in which he finished with 14 touchdown passes and nine interceptions while leading Iowa to 9-4 overall record — good for fourth in the Big Ten Conference.

The junior has a multitude of weapons to throw to including receiver Trey Stross and senior tight end Tony Moeaki. Stross has emerged as Iowa’s big-play threat early on amassing 130 yards on just seven catches. Meanwhile Moeaki — at 6-foot-4, 250-pounds — has drawn comparisons to Arizona tight end Rob Gronkowski. The senior has caught 11 passes for 87 yards, including a touchdown catch for the decisive score in the Hawkeyes’ week-one win over Northern Iowa.

Despite their offensive weapons, Iowa has proven a slow-starting team through the first two games, scoring only 17 of its total 52 points in the first half.

“”We need to come out sharper (offensively), we really do,”” Ferentz said. “”We’re working on that. The way my mind works is we just have to practice better. I think usually what you do in practice carries over to the game field.””

Defensively, Iowa could cause headaches for Stoops and his young quarterback Matt Scott. The Hawkeyes have collected five interceptions in just two games and have limited opponents’ rushing attacks to just 137 yards per game.

The catalysts of the defensive unit are defensive backs Tyler Sash and Brett Greenwood, both of whom combine to account for all of Iowa’s five interceptions. The pair of talented sophomores also lead the team in tackles as Sash and Greenwood each have 20 and 18, respectively.

For an Arizona offense that has yet to see a true defensive test, the Hawkeyes’ stingy defense, along with what is expected to be a raucous crowd Saturday — Kinnick Stadium averaged an over 99 percent capacity-filled crowd in 2008 — will surely make for a tight contest.

“”They have several guys playing very well for them, especially their running backs.,”” Ferentz said. “”But I feel we’ve got a strong defense as well.””

“”(Arizona) ought to be a great football team. We’re going to have to step it up this week for sure.””

 

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