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In The Middle of a Special Season

In The Middle of a Special Season

11/1/2002 by Jon Miller of Hawkeye Nation

 

The 2002 Iowa Hawkeyes are suddenly the toast of the college football world. National television shows, newspapers and websites can’t get enough of this Iowa Hawkeye football team. Many of them are talking about the ‘overnight’ success of the Iowa football program.

But the Iowa fans know better than that.

A turnaround of this magnitude does not happen ‘overnight’.

So how did it happen?

Sweat, determination and self-belief. Sure, those are just words, but when you look at the statistics of the Iowa football program under Kirk Ferentz and his staff, those words take form.

1999: 1-10 (0-8 in the Big Ten)

Iowa sacked its opponents 20 times and gave up 29 sacks. The Hawkeyes could not do the two things that all Big Ten teams must do to have a chance: run or stop the run.

Iowa averaged just 93.5 yards per game and surrendered 245.3 yards per game against the run. We can remember those days, those dark and dreary days during the 1999 season.

Iowa averaged a paltry 14.7 points per game while the opposition rang up 31.5 points per game. Iowa gained just 3,303 yards that year and gave up 5,097. The Hawkeyes punted the ball 73 times.

2000: 3-9 (3-5 in the Big Ten)

Iowa sacked its opponents 24 times yet surrendered 57 sacks, a horrible figure. Not surprising, three Iowa quarterbacks threw more than 100 passes on the year.

Iowa averaged 90.8 rushing yards per game and allowed 194.2.

The defensive line was becoming a bit stingier but still not a force to be reckoned with by any stretch of the imagination.

The Hawkeyes averaged 16.9 points per game and allowed 27.5, so they were showing small improvements in the statistics.

Iowa gained 3,670 yards in 2000 but gave up 5,291 total yards. Iowa punted the ball 74 times in 2000.

However, Iowa did win two of its last three games, including a double overtime win at Penn State and a win over then #10 Northwestern at home before losing to Minnesota in Minneapolis. There were signs of life, but not exactly a mandate of improvement.

A child must crawl before it can walk and the Hawkeyes were crawling faster at the end of 2000 than they were at the start of the season.

2001: 7-5 (4-4 in the Big Ten)

The Hawkeyes sacked their opponents 24 times but were sacked just 20 times, a marked improvement over 2000.

Iowa began to play smash mouth football, benefiting from another off-season with

Strength and Conditioning coach Chris Doyle and his unique approach to developing the body and minds of his charges.

The Hawkeyes averaged 175.3 rushing yards per game in 2001 while allowing just 117.1 rushing yards per game. The worm was turning indeed and the Hawkeyes were the physical aggressors.

Iowa averaged 32.6 points per game while giving up 21.5 points per game. The 32.6 points per game was the 4th highest scoring average for a season in Iowa football history, not two seasons removed from barely averaging two touchdowns per game.

In 2001, Iowa gained 4,722 total yards and allowed 3,901. Iowa never lost a game by more than six points except on one occasion where they lost by nine. Their average margin of loss was just 5.4 points per game.

The Hawkeyes were on the verge of a breakout season.

Iowa punted the ball just 49 times.

2002: 8-1 (5-0 in the Big Ten) with three conference games and one bowl game yet to be played

Iowa has sacked its opponents 28 times through just nine games this season and have allowed only eight sacks. Part of that is due to the fleet feet of Brad Banks, but the main factor is due to possibly one of the best Iowa offensive lines in the 113-year history Hawkeye football.

Iowa is averaging 213.9 rushing yards per game and is allowing just 62.3 yards on the ground per contest. Remember, just two seasons ago Iowa averaged 90.8 rushing yards per game while allowing 194.2. That is a net gain of 255 yards per game for the Hawkeyes.

In 2002, Iowa is averaging 37.8 points per game through nine games. If Iowa keeps that up, they will have the most prolific scoring offense in Iowa history, surpassing the legendary 1985 Iowa team that averaged 36.7 points per game. Iowa is allowing 20.4 points per game.

Through nine games, Iowa has 1,925 yards rushing and 1,925 yards passing for 3,850 total yards with four more games to go. That is an average of 427.8 yards per game which would rank 6th all time in Iowa history if the Hawks can keep up that pace.

Iowa has allowed 3,271 yards with most of those coming via the air as teams cannot run on the 2 nd best rush defense in America.

Iowa has punted the ball 36 times this season, a pace of 48 for 52 punts over a 13 game schedule. Iowa had 59 punts in 1987, the only other time the program has played 13 games in a year. Iowa punted the ball 46 times in 1985 on a 12 game schedule.

The math is simple: In less than four full seasons since the start of the Kirk Ferentz era,

Iowa has nearly tripled its points per game, more than doubled its rushing yards per game and has reduced the number of rushing yards by opponents by nearly 400%.

This program has been built from the ‘trenches out’. The line play on either side of the line of scrimmage harkens back to the dominating Iowa teams from the 1980’s.

The 2002 Iowa offense is as balanced as they come but they are not exotic and do not rely on trick schemes; it’s basic in your face football like Bo and Woody used to play.

The improvement on Special Teams has been remarkable as well, as Iowa

The 2002 Iowa Hawkeyes have a chance to go where no other Iowa football team has gone.

They have a chance to eclipse the school record of 10 wins in a season set in 1985, 1987 and 1991.

They have a chance to go undefeated in Big Ten conference play for the third time in school history (1921 & 1922 Iowa was 5-0) and the first time since

Iowa has played more than five league games in a season.

They have a chance to be the best team in the history of Iowa football.

But there is still a long way to go and to borrow the 2002 Iowa catch phrase, ‘the hay is not yet in the barn’.

This team does not ‘scratch it where it itches’; this team beats you over the head the way they want to.

Oh my, how far the Hawkeyes have come in less than four full seasons under the current coaching staff led by Kirk Ferentz.


Hawkeye NationHawkeye Nation was founded by Jon Miller, and later acquired by Rivals and Sports Illustrated. You can visit them at HawkeyeNation.com

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In The Middle of a Special Season - Summary of Iowa football and basketball games