Coker's Brilliant Effort Not Enough
Oct. 29, 2011
MINNEAPOLIS -- Kirk Ferentz talked at halftime about the importance of his University of Iowa football team winning the third quarter of its game Saturday with the Minnesota Golden Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium. The Hawkeyes did. However, the home team won the fourth quarter and the game, 22-21.
Trailing 21-10 after Marcus Coker scored his second touchdown of the game at 13:51 of the fourth quarter, the Gophers went on an 11-play, 80-yard scoring drive that cut the Iowa's margin to 21-16 after Broderick Binns deflected UM's pass attempt on its two-point conversion.
Minnesota then successfully executed an on-side kick and marched 59 yards on 12 plays, the 12th a 3-yard run by Gopher quarterback MarQueis Gray, who came up short one play later on UM's attempt to push the margin to three points with a two-point conversion.
"They did the things they had to do to win. At the end of the day, we got what we deserved. They simply played better, particularly when it mattered most," said Ferentz, who team fell to Iowa to 5-3 overall and an 2 up and 2 down in Big Ten Conference play after the loss.
Tied at 7 after intermission, Ferentz told the Hawkeye Radio Network and the Big Ten Network in separate visits that he was anxious to see his team's third-quarter effort, suggesting that the team that won the third stanza would claim Floyd of Rosedale, the bronze pig that is the possession of the winner of this annual battle for bragging rights.
Iowa won the third quarter in a big way. Statistically, the Hawkeyes outgained the Gophers, 178 yards to 99. Iowa moved the chains eight times to Minnesota's one. On the scoreboard, the Hawkeyes put up 7, the Gophers 3, but Iowa's number needs as an asterisk: The Hawkeyes used four plays in the fourth quarter to complete a 7-play, 71-yard touchdown drive that pushed Iowa's lead to 21-10.
However, the Hawkeye offense wouldn't see the field again until the table had turned a full 180 degrees.
As dominant as Iowa was in the third quarter, Minnesota was the same in the fourth. The Gophers collected 179 yards - 102 on the ground - on 10 first downs. Most importantly, the home team's offense was on the field for 13 minutes and 25 seconds.
"It's hard to be a good defensive team if you can't stop the run. We're struggling there. They did a better job of execution and finding the creases. The credit goes to them," said Ferentz.
The 12-point fourth quarter erased a brilliant effort by Coker. The sophomore running back gained 252 yards on 32 carries, a stunning average of 7.9 yards per carry. His 252 yards was the third-best total in the history of the UI football program and he now ranks with Sedrick Shaw, Tavian Banks and Shonn Greene as the only Iowa running backs to have multiple 200-yard rushing games in their careers.
"We wasted avery good rushing effort by Marcus. He ran hard. It gets down to finishing drives and if you don't score seven, you have to convert the field goals. You have to score points when the opportunities present themselves," said Ferentz.
Vandenberg completed 16 of his 24 pass attempts for 177 yards. His favorite target was McNut, who had seven catches for 101 yards and Iowa's first touchdown of the game.
Coker rambled for 187 yards during the first 30 minutes. He had carries of 50 and 41-yards, each setting up field goal attempts by Mike Meyer, the first a 24-yarder from the left hash that missed left and the second from the 43 that hit the left upright.
Iowa, one of the Big Ten's and nation's top teams in red zone scoring entering the game, struggled to finish close the book offensively, putting points on the board in just three of its six visits inside the Gophers' 20 yard line.
"We didn't do the things you need to do to win, offensively, defensively or special teams. They deserved to win," said Ferentz.
Iowa's attention now turns to the month of November. When the Hawkeyes flip the page on the calendar they'll see a pair of home games - next Saturday against Michigan and Nov. 12 against Michigan State - prior to a pair of games on the road: Purdue on Nov. 19 and Nebraska in the inaugural Heroes Game the day after Thanksgiving.