Bounce Back

After a sky-is-falling loss to Central Michigan a week ago, Iowa bounced back with a 31-13 stomping of Minnesota Saturday in Kinnick Stadium.

Iowa CITY, Iowa - When Mark Weisman's touchdown run was overturned by replay on Saturday, Iowa right tackle Brett Van Sloten applauded. His lack of disappointment reflected a necessary attitude.

The Hawkeyes welcomed the chance to line back up and take it at rival Minnesota. Quarterback James Vandenberg plunged into the end zone with ease on the next play. Iowa led 24-0 en route to a 31-13 handling of the Golden Gophers.

What unfolded here at Kinnick Stadium seemed improbable a week after Central Michigan stunned the Hawkeyes, 32-21, in this venue. Iowa fell to 2-2 and to say there was unrest in Hawkeye Nation would be an extreme understatement.

As has happened numerous times before in head coach Kirk Ferentz's 14 seasons, Iowa made a 180-degree turn in a short period of time. The Hawkeyes stopped hurting themselves with turnovers, penalties and various other mistakes.

"Really, the credit goes to our players," Ferentz said. "They did a great job coming into the game ready to play and played really well in all three phases."

The Iowa athletes do deserve pats on the back. It's not easy to rebound from a loss to a bad MAC team at home. Teams can fold when in that position.

The Hawkeye coaches also should be given some credit here. They opened the game with a well-conceived, 45-yard pass to tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz, pulled off a flea-ficker for a touchdown and the defense confused Minnesota for most of the afternoon and didn't allow the opponent to cross midfield in the first half.

Iowa came into the season with youth and/or inexperience at a lot of spots. It can be debated on why that was the case from recruiting to player retention. In the end, it was what it was and the coaches and athletes had to deal with it.

"We know we have a lot of young players, a lot of inexperienced guys," Ferentz said. "The whole thing is to move forward and grow. We did some things, believe it or not, last week (against Central Michigan) that were better than we've done them. But when you lose, it typically doesn't show up.

"(Saturday) we took a step forward. That's what you have to do every week."

The Gophers came to town at 4-0 and having defeated Iowa the last two seasons in Minneapolis. Most pre-game analysis called for it to be a close game this year.

Iowa showed early that it wasn't in the mood for a nail-biter. By halftime, the Hawkeyes led 24-0 and held a 328-75 advantage in total yards.

Sophomore running back Mark Weisman continued his unlikely emergence with 155 yards by the intermission. He finished with 177, the third game in a row he eclipsed the century mark on the ground.

Weisman should be given his due for his punishing method of gaining yards. At least equal credit should go to his offensive line, which is emerging as the best unit on the team despite losing three of last year's starters to the NFL.

Iowa's front gave up six sacks in the season opener against Northern Illinois. It hasn't allowed one since then. The Gophers came into the game as one of the better pass rushing teams in the Big Ten.

"We handled their speed a lot better than we did in the first game," Ferentz said. "We're progressing, particularly one the outside with our tackles. That was a step forward."

A week after being penalized nine times, Iowa was whistled for infractions on eight occasions Saturday. They weren't nearly as critical, though, and covered only 56 yards as opposed to more than 100 against Central Michigan.

The Hawkeyes also took care of the football. They did not turn it over and enticed Minnesota into four giveaways. Linebacker Christian Kirksey brought an interception back 68 yards for a touchdown.

"It shows us that we can get better even know we were coming off a loss," Kirksey said of the team's one-week turnaround. "It tells us about our character. We just have to keep getting better."

The Hawkeyes were reminded all off season that they were without a traveling trophy. The coaches strategically placed their empty cases around the football complex so the players would see them.

Saturday, Iowa reclaimed Floyd of Rosedale, a heavy bronze pig trophy.

"We weren't the bullies," guard Matt Tobin said. "We were the little kids in the area. We could't get any trophies. It's good to get that pig back."

Iowa Center James Ferentz was the first guy on the team to get to Floyd after the game. His father knew what Saturday's win represented to everyone in black and gold.

"That meant a lot to everybody on our team," Kirk Ferentz said. "Our seniors did a great job of giving us leadership all week long. (Saturday) they did the same. I'm happy for those guys."

Iowa heads into its bye week with confidence. It has two weeks to prepare for a road trip to Michigan State.

"The sky is the limit," freshman Darian Cooper said. "We still have a lot of games to play. Who knows how high we can get? I assure you, we'll keep climbing."


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