IOWA CITY -
For the first time this week it was about football. No fragile egos, no he said/he said, no high drama.
OK, you really didn't think you'd get through a day of Iowa football without mention of wayward quarterback Jon Beutjer.
It was there and talked about and explained and analyzed.
It was there, but it wasn't.
On the field, where issues are settled with gripping and grunting, it was all football.
"It was almost like we were in our backyard," senior running back Ladell Betts said. "Guys having fun, smiling, that's when football's fun."
The Hawkeyes (1-0) rolled up 567 yards of offense and rolled to a 51-0 victory Saturday before 56,091 fans at Kinnick Stadium. It was Iowa's largest margin of victory since a 62-0 blowout over Indiana in 1997.
Four running backs scored touchdowns, including sophomore Aaron Greving, who tied a national record with three TDs on consecutive carries. Greving scored from 14, 1 and 26 yards, the first carries of his career and only three Saturday.
Four Iowa backs scored TDs and one wasn't Betts.
"I know!" Betts joked.
Dinged a little, Betts kicked back early in the third quarter with 99 yards on 15 carries.
If it's possible, the Hawkeyes found sanctuary on the football field, a collective kick back and relax at the expense of Kent State (0-1).
The Hawkeyes effectively expunged Beutjer from the record. The sophomore quit the team Tuesday in the wake of of a late July fight with offensive lineman Sam Aiello and after senior Kyle McCann was named starting quarterback.
Beutjer had his say Wednesday, saying he felt betrayed by Coach Kirk Ferentz and offensive coordinator Ken O'Keefe.
It was telling that Ferentz called Thursday's practice his team's best all week.
"I addressed the team probably for about a total of three minutes at the end of Tuesday's practice and that was it," Ferentz said.
No hangover, no wringing of hands, gnashing of teeth.
"Piece of cake," said McCann, who's won three of his last four starts.
And that pretty much sums up Saturday.
The Hawkeyes rushed for 331 yards and scored on nine of 11
possessions. The defense put up its first shutout since a 24-0 win over Northern Illinois in 1999.
"Overall, we tried to come out and make a statement,"
said senior defensive end Aaron Kampman, whose second quarter interception snuffed a first-and-10 at Iowa's 10-yard line.
"With a goose egg up there, we had a pretty good day."
Everyone who wanted to look under the hood of some new guys saw pistons pumping.
On his first series, juco quarterback Brad Banks ignited the offense, completing a 36-yard pass to tight end Dallas Clark on his first play. Greving scored his first TD on the next play.
"Brad's an energy guy," Ferentz said.
"There's something magical about him."
The Hawkeyes scored on two of Banks' three drives in the driver's seat.
"We got some yards and some scores, it went pretty well,"
said Banks, who will continue to see situational action.
"I was all right. I made a couple mistakes, but bounced
With Beutjer's departure, the quarterback controversy is dead.
McCann loved Banks' performance as much as anyone. Call it the quarterback collective.
"It's fun when a lot of guys contribute," said
McCann, who completed 12 of 18 for 165 yards and was sacked once.
"It's nice, very nice."
JUCO WIDEOUT C.J. Jones was a little tighter. He dropped what could have been a long TD pass, then rebounded with a 51-yard punt return that set up sophomore Fred Russell's 15-yard TD run.
Russell was next in the new guy parade. He rushed for 41 yards on four carries and caught one of Banks' passes for 28 yards.
Then, let's go to Greving, who tied a record shared by NFLers Tiki Barber and Howard Griffith.
Siaka Massaquoi, yet another running back, gained 22 yards on five carries and scored. Fullback Jeremy Allen, sort of a new guy after missing much of last season with an ankle injury, gained 73 yards on 12 carries, scoring his first career TD on a 14-yard run that gave Iowa 7-0 lead with 9:35 left in the first quarter.
"Anytime you can talk about so many new faces, you know
it's been a good day," center Bruce Nelson said.
Sophomore Nate Kaeding set and tied a record Saturday.
He broke the school mark record for kicking points in a game, knocking through three field goals and six extra points for 15 points, breaking a record he tied last season. He's hit 10 straight field goals, tying a record set by Rob Houghtlin in 1985.
"I'm on a hot streak, so the coaches aren't messing
with me too much," said Kaeding, the former Iowa City West
prep who is 17 of 25 at Iowa.
OF COURSE, YOU'RE thinking what does this all mean? That was, after all, Kent State. The Golden Flashes played two bowl teams last season, receiving sound thrashings from Pittsburgh and Purdue.
So, what does this all mean?
"I think they're better than Pittsburgh," said Kent
State Coach Dean Pees. "They play a different style than
Purdue. Iowa comes out and socks you in the face."Well, we already knew that.