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College Football: Iowa ends Minnesota’s unbeaten season with 23-19 win

This news story was published on November 17, 2019.
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IOWA CITY – Iowa came out firing on all cylinders on offense and built a big enough lead to hold off previously unbeaten Minnesota, 23-19, Saturday in Kinnick Stadium.

Minnesota (9-1, 6-1) came to Iowa City with an unblemished 9-0 record and watched Iowa score touchdowns on their first three possessions. Minnesota, however, bounced back in the second half and pulled to within a touchdown.  Iowa’s defense held Minnesota to a season-low 19 points. The Gophers had scored at least 31 points in eight straight games. The final play of the game was a Hawkeye interception, sealing the win for Iowa (7-3, 4-3).

Kirk Ferentz has 95 Big Ten Conference wins, tying Joe Paterno for No. 5 all-me in conference history. Hayden Fry ranks fourth in confer- ence history with 96 wins.
LB Krisan Welch returned to the lineup for the first me since Week 6 and led Iowa with a game-high 11 tackles, matching his career best. SS Geno Stone also matched his career-high with eight tackles.

DE A.J. Epenesa had 2.5 of Iowa’s season-high six sacks. It is the most sacks by a Hawkeye defense since 2013 (Northwestern).

K Keith Duncan connected on one field goal (27). He has 23 made field goals this season, a single-season school record. Duncan is 23-26 on field aettmpts this season, and 12-14 on field goal tries of 40-yards. Duncan has 32 career made field goals, tying Daniel Murray for seventh all-time.

QB Nate Stanley threw two touchdowns (21, 5). He has 66 career touchdown passes in his career, No. 2 all-time in program history (Chuck Long, 74). Stanley has 19 career multi-touchdown games, including five this season. Stanley made his 36th consecuve start, the second longest streak by a Hawkeye QB in program history (Long, 47).

RB Tyler Goodson made his first career start. He is the fourth true freshman to start this season, and the 28th true freshman to start under Ferentz. He is the fifth true freshman running back to start in the Ferentz era, and the first since Greg Garmon in 2012 (Goodson 2015, Garmon 2012, Canzeri 2011, Coker 2010, Wegher (2009).

RB Tyler Goodson’s 10-yard touchdown rush in the first quarter was his first career touchdown.

WR Tyrone Tracy had a career-high six recepons for 77 yards. He has 16 recepons for 323 yards the last four games. He had 12 receptions for 190 yards in the first six games.

The Hawkeyes played their third trophy game of the season (2-1). Iowa defended the Cy-Hawk Trophy with an 18-17 win at Iowa State on Sept. 14, lost at Wisconsin 24-22 on Nov. 9, and defeated Minnesota, 23-19, today. The Hawkeyes are 15-4 in their last 19 rivalry trophy games (Iowa State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Wisconsin), with all four losses coming to Wisconsin.

Nov. 16, 2019 marks the 130th anniversary of Iowa football. The Hawkeyes played their first football game on Nov. 16, 1889, against Grinnell. Iowa has played 1,256 games since beginning football in 1889. Iowa’s overall record is 657-560-39 (.539).

The Hawkeyes host Illinois on Nov. 23 at Kinnick Stadium.

University of Iowa Football Media Conference

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Head Coach Kirk Ferentz

Kirk Ferentz

KIRK FERENTZ: Just this entire week coming into this football game we knew our team would have to be extremely focused, we’d have to fight hard.

I think that being said, I think our players certainly responded and showed they were determined coming into this football game tonight. Really pleasing to get the victory.

I think the first half we did a great job of controlling pretty much in all areas. Our offense really did a great job with three of the four possessions, good balance, good productivity, getting down and finishing the drives with touchdowns. That was certainly important.

Defensively I thought we did a good job, too. Played complementary football. Probably the biggest accomplishment there was keeping them out of the end zone. Giving them two field goals, that was just about perfect from our end of the thing.

The goal we wanted was to be leading at halftime, something nobody has done against them this year, no opponent. We thought that would be a key.

The second half was just a tremendous fight. We have tremendous respect for Minnesota. Coming in, they’ve been explosive, showed that on their first drive. Took it down and closed the lead. From there I think it was just a matter of back-and-forth type fight. I think our guys really kept their composure, kept their focus, fought the full 60. That’s exactly what it took.

Really proud of the way our guys answered every situation that was out there.

Thought our defense down the stretch was outstanding. Certainly to finish the game the way we did was really just outstanding.

That being said, just want to thank our fans again. Another great home game. That was vintage Kinnick out there tonight, the electricity, the fan involvement, something I think everybody on our sideline felt and certainly the guys out there on the field.

Great to have Floyd staying in Iowa. One of our guys did a report on that, reported that Floyd is a hundred pounds. I think Tristan would dispute that, claiming he was a little bit heavier. Great to have him in the locker room with us, pictures, all those kinds of things.

Very happy for the players and proud of what they did tonight.

Q. Tyler Goodson, what was the decision behind his first start?
KIRK FERENTZ: Just felt like he gave us our best chance to do things. I’ve said it all along, we really like all three of our backs. The guys that are playing are doing a great job. Just thought it might be the best answer for today’s game. We’ll assess as we go.

He did a lot of good things out there. I just said on the radio, maybe as impressive as anything, blitz pickup off a play-action in the second half. For a freshman to make that protection, then execute it, was really impressive.

It’s even more impressive because he didn’t execute it during the week, the end of the week last week. I think that kind of shows you the kind of young guy he is. He learned from a mistake, carried it out there to the game field.

Q. You were aggressive early on offense. Is that because of Minnesota’s offense?
KIRK FERENTZ: We knew we were going to have to score points today. No mirage, the points they’ve scored, yards they’ve had. We had tremendous respect and still do for their football team, offensive football team. Felt like we had to kind of lay it out there a little bit more.

Q. How did it help you guys getting Kristian back in there?
KIRK FERENTZ: Always hate to lose a veteran player. It’s harder for the player because they’re sitting there watching that clock tick on their career. That’s hard. You hate to lose a veteran guy, but to get one back is a real benefit.

I think the other guys were playing well. Kristian is a veteran guy who has been playing his best football. That’s what you hope with a guy that’s a senior, to get him back. Just really happy about that.

Unfortunately we experienced it the other direction with OJ who couldn’t go this week. Riley jumped in there, did a good job. A young player stepping up.

That’s the nature of football. Hopefully we’ll get those guys back next week.

Q. Moving Chauncey and A.J. on the last drive seemed to work. Was it to set up on their protections?
KIRK FERENTZ: Yes and no. They kind of have two different kinds of protections with their passing game. One set of protections they’ve got involves seven or even eight guys in protection, where really only one guy has a chance to get home, if that. I mean, it’s kind of stacked against you. That makes it tough.

But having a four-point lead, was pivotal. It exposes their line. No knock on their guys, but just gives you a chance to have a little bit more wiggle room inside, or even on the edges. You’re playing two different types of offenses almost during the course of the game.

Q. What about your offensive line play, seemed to be real stable in both directions. Do you feel like you finally have a unit?
KIRK FERENTZ: It’s been a long road, as you know. It’s affected us. I haven’t seen the film, but I was just talking to A.J. in there. He concurred, I thought that was his best game back at left tackle. Just seemed like he really controlled things pretty well from his position. We got a lot of respect for the guys that were playing across from him, a couple guys playing. I thought that.

Kyler got beat early in the game. We got the ball out of there, but he got beat on a protection. But after that, it seemed like things kind of settled down.

From where I was standing, seemed like we played more as a unit, more solidified. Still a lot of things on film to correct. I think it was obviously very helpful for that first half especially.

Q. Two of the most important plays of the game on that fourth-down conversion.
KIRK FERENTZ: Same comment as Kristian. To get a senior guy back, he was dressed out last week, but Friday morning didn’t really do anything. He’s back to full health. Good to get him back.

Asked about a young guy earlier. I’ll throw LaPorta in there, too. Big third down catch. So good to have Nate back, but I think we have a group of guys working well, making progress.

Q. How is Brandon Smith, looked like he played one play?
KIRK FERENTZ: It’s encouraging, yes. Somebody couldn’t go, we threw him in there. Yeah, it’s encouraging certainly. I’m optimistic he’ll be back next week. We’ll see.

Q. What about the emotions? You coach a team since January, see them lose close games, what is it like to see them break out in a game like this?
KIRK FERENTZ: When you lose, it’s hard. It’s just hard. I’m an older guy right now. I’ve been coaching a lot of games. Had my butt kicked plenty. But you feel bad for your players. It’s hard. A lot of people have opinions about all this and that. Any time you lose, that’s just the nature of what we do.

So bottom line is I’m just really happy for our guys. I’m happy and proud of them. Proud of the way they handled this week. It was a challenging week. They handled it well.

I’m proud of our staff. They did a great job of giving us a plan against a team that we had a lot of respect for, still do. This is what makes it fun.

But as high as those highs are, the lows can be really low, too. To be out there when the clock is running down in Kinnick Stadium, that’s a pretty good feeling.

I’m just happy this team, this ’19 team, got to experience one of those. We’ve come up short three times now, so it was good to finally push one through.

Q. You’ve answered this in dozens of ways over the years. How does the team stay together, how do you keep them together in November, when you’ve had a certain amount of disappointment?
KIRK FERENTZ: It takes great leadership internally, from your players. If your players aren’t stable, if they’re not high-character guys, not guys that really understand how tough it is to compete at this level…

That’s part of our job, we got to try to educate them all year long that there’s nothing easy about this. Any time you go out there and lay it on the line, it can go either way. Could have gone either way tonight.

You try to educate them. That’s going to be part of the deal. That’s what makes those lows so low and the highs so high. Comes back to the kind of people that are in your building. We really got a great group of young people.

We’re not always the best team at times, but they’re a team. They believe in each other, care about each other. Just reference yesterday, talking to the FOX crew that worked the game. A.J. had just been in with them. They couldn’t say enough good things about the kind of kid he is, kind of person he is, how impressed.

These guys, they’re national, talking to people from all over the place. I told them, It starts with the mom and dad. If you meet the mom and dad, you understand why A.J. is the kind of guy he is.

My point is those are the kind of guys we work with every day. That’s where it all starts. That’s why you hurt for them when they lose. I’m happy for them tonight.

Q. Nat Stanley made a key third down with his legs.
KIRK FERENTZ: Football, again, I got trouble for saying that five years ago (laughter). I got one for you, too, okay. Robert Frost. I was an English major. The only way around things is through things, all that kind of stuff.

I did a little research on him. He had a good staying, too. After 88 years of life, one observation. He said, Life goes on.

Kind of like football. You never know what’s going to happen. What you do is you just keep pushing forward. Nate running the football tonight helped us certainly, him pulling it down. I think any time a quarterback will do that, do it wisely, it helps. That was a pretty slick move. I didn’t expect to see that. Didn’t know he had that in his pocket. Great to see.

Q. Him and your other quarterback before him, both really tough guys. Nate can barely talk this week through a cold, got popped at the goal line last week. You have to be pretty impressed with this kid’s career.
KIRK FERENTZ: I think anybody that plays good at quarterback, plays well at a quarterback – poor grammar there. To be a major college quarterback, no matter what kind of system you have, you got to have great physical toughness, also great mental toughness. It was no different before social media in the ’80s.

Playing quarterback here is not an easy deal. It’s a high-scrutiny position anywhere you go. Outside of being offensive coordinator, it’s the second worst job I think in football. I got the third. It’s from people criticizing you, always having opinions.

But Nate is an unbelievable guy. Probably if he has one fault, in my opinion, almost too much of a perfectionist. He wants to do everything just perfectly. That’s why he’s good, too. But he’s got great mental toughness.

Just talked about A.J. It starts at home. Got a great mom and dad. He’s a guy who understands competition, loves it, but also knows you’re going to get knocked on your tail every now and then, too.

Q. Stanley carried over in the performance from the second half last week into the first half. What does that say about stepping up in those big-game situations?
KIRK FERENTZ: He’s a senior quarterback, we expect him to lead our football team. Like I’ve said all season long, it takes everybody. It’s not just one guy. You need protection, you need receivers doing something. Part of it tonight, we’re catching the ball and running, making yards, scoring touchdowns, that type of thing. It’s a team effort.

But certainly it would be silly to say the quarterback is not an integral or critical part of any offensive football team, at least most that I’ve been around.

Q. What about Tyrone Tracy, had to step in for Brandon Smith. From a production standpoint, has been up there with Brandon. Did you think it would be almost seamless the way it is?
KIRK FERENTZ: We didn’t know what the rate of his progression would be. We’ve been watching him for a year plus now, just watching the growth. We had total confidence coming in this season he’d be a really good receiver for us. We thought we had pretty good receivers in Ihmir and Brandon.

Good news, if we can get Brandon back, that gives us one more guy in the mix. Nico is doing a really good job, right on through.

Happy for him. It’s like all the guys we’re talking about, it’s because he’s worked hard, has a great attitude, another tremendous young guy. He’s fun to be around.

I want to go on record, too. This stuff about moms, having a two-parent home, I think that’s all bull crap personally. But having somebody who helps raise a young guy, it could be a single parent, mentor. In Tyrone’s case, he’s got a mom and dad, too, great people.

That is a common denominator of our good players, somebody going along raising them right.

Q. Seems like you’ve enjoyed Floyd over the years.
KIRK FERENTZ: That’s a legitimate trophy.

Q. Selfie or anything?
KIRK FERENTZ: No. That would be kind of weird. I sure like looking at him, yeah. Sure like looking at him.

Thank you.

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