IOWA CITY –
Now, every quarterback on the Hawkeyes’ schedule becomes a Heisman candidate.
Raise the bar, they tear it down. Give them your best shot, experience your worst nightmare. Bring your Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback to Kinnick Stadium, cart home a broken, babbling bowl of goo.
First, Miami (Ohio) quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his Heisman Web site took hits. Saturday, Arizona State Andrew Walter and his Heisman Web site took hits.
And hits. And blanket coverage. And more hits.
After Saturday’s 21-2 pasting of No. 16 Arizona State before 70,397 at Kinnick, every quarterback on the Hawkeyes’ schedule becomes a Heisman candidate.
“If they’ll buy it, I’m all for it,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said.
Iowa’s defense played Wacca-Mole with Walter, while Iowa quarterback Nathan Chandler shook off an early interception and threw three TD passes to send the No. 18 Hawkeyes (4-0) into the Big Ten season 4-0 for the first time since 1997.
“Our defense and special teams didn’t play particularly poor. They did their part,” ASU Coach Dirk Koetter said. “Our offense stunk. It stunk, and that starts with me.”
That’s one way to put it. Another way to put it is Iowa’s defense dominated. And yet another way to put it is Iowa’s defense made ASU’s offense stink.
Walter threw for nearly 4,000 yards last season. After Saturday, he still has a long way to go.
Walter completed 25 of 44 passes for 160 yards, one interception and no TDs.
That sound you hear all over the Big Ten is sports information directors scuttling Heisman material.
“They didn’t want too much of us over the middle or running the ball,” linebacker Chad Greenway said. “We got to them early in the game. You could tell when their running backs touched the ball, they were trying to get to the ground.”
ASU’s running game needed GPS. You couldn’t find it anywhere.
The Sun Devils (2-1) rushed 21 times for 24 yards, a 1.1 average. They gained 184 yards total offense.
“I feel like we’ve got one of the best defenses in the country,” said Iowa running back Fred Russell, who had 27 carries for 154 yards. “I feel sorry for the opposing team. I feel really bad for them.”
The Sun Devils’ only points came courtesy of a botched shot-gun snap from center Brian Ferentz that Ferentz hustled back and recovered in the end zone.
ASU finished the first half with three consecutive three-and-outs and began the second half with two more while falling behind 21-2.
“When you go against our defense all week,” Iowa
offensive tackle Robert Gallery said, “it’s almost easy
out there in games.”
Walter connected with fullback Mike Karney for a 16-yard gain and a first down on the first play of the second quarter. Why is this play significant? It took the Devils nearly 23 minutes to pick up their next first down, and they got that on a roughing the passer penalty.
On the same drive, they got another first down on a roughing the punter call. When Iowa was out of players to rough, freshman kicker Jesse Ainsworth missed a 43-yard field goal attempt wide right with 33 seconds left in the third quarter.
“When a Heisman comes in, we know he has the potential to
change the game around,” said defensive end Howard Hodges, who had a sack among his two tackles for loss. “So we know we have to take the Heisman out of the game. We have to get after him. We have to get in as many licks as we can.”
The Hawkeyes also ended a three-game losing streak to the Pac-10.
They won a night game at Kinnick for the first time since 1997. And they rid themselves of some of that sour taste left from the Orange Bowl, a 38-17 loss to USC, a west coast offense, a Pac-10 team with a real-live Heisman winner.
“We got a lot of monkeys off our backs tonight,” said
Greenway, who recorded a whopping 17 tackles for the second straight week.
Chandler had a monkey on his back for about a half a quarter. He could have curled into the fetal position after going 2 for 7 for 29 yards and an interception in the first quarter.
Instead, with a lot of help from Iowa’s defense, the 6-foot-7 Texan stood up.
After safety Jason Shivers picked off Chandler to give the Sun Devils a first down at Iowa’s 21, sophomore cornerback Jovon Johnson returned the favor, stepping in front of wideout Skyler Fulton for his third interception this season.
“That was a major play,” Ferentz said.
After his first interception this season, Chandler went 7 of 12 for 103 yards and two TDs. He finished 15 of 23 for 154 yards, one interception and three touchdowns.
“After the interception, I didn’t hear one negative
word,” Chandler said. “We have great team camaraderie. I
didn’t hear a single negative word after any of our bad
With top wideout Mo Brown on crutches after last week’s ankle injury at Iowa State, fifth-year senior Ramon Ochoa became Chandler’s top target.
Ochoa caught four passes for 64 yards, including a pair of
With 7:43 left in the second quarter, Chandler connected with Ochoa for a 40-yard score, Ochoa’s first career TD reception.
“I think they came in wanting a track meet,” said Ochoa,
who came into this season with five career receptions. “We wanted to make it a street fight.”
That’s a good way to put it.