COLUMBUS, Ohio — Wisconsin called its three-tight end formation “The Barge” when it sort of made that a thing a couple of years ago. The Hawkeyes don’t have a cute, funny nickname for their triple-tight end set.
“Thirteen,” tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz said. “I don’t really think it’s anything. I know the signal, we call it 13. That’s about it. We thought we could run the ball on them and we tried something new.”
What it lacks in a cool-sounding nickname, it more than made up for in performance in the Hawkeyes’ 34-24 loss Saturday at Ohio Stadium. Tight end Jake Duzey had a career-career day with six catches for 138 yards, including an 85-yard TD that tied the game 24-24 with 2:30 left in the third quarter. Fiedorowicz caught four passes for 29 yards and a 2-yard TD.
Junior Ray Hamilton didn’t get into the receptions act, but after an abysmal performance running the ball against Michigan State (16 carries for 23 yards), the Hawkeyes were determined to run the ball and went to the heavy three-TE set.
“I think it makes it tough on a defense, which might be basing its personnel off what we put in the game,” quarterback Jake Duzey said. “You might only have two DBs on the field against that set. It makes it tougher.”
Duzey was the third tight end Iowa signed in its 2011 recruiting class. The redshirt sophomore came after Hamilton and Henry Krieger Coble. Iowa went after an athlete it felt it could mold into a tight end. Duzey didn’t block for Athens High School in Troy, Mich.
The play he scored on was a “go” route that attacked corner Armani Reeves. Yes, the tight end attacked the corner.
“He’s probably our fastest guy,” Fiedorowicz said. “He runs a 4.5 [-second] 40. He’s out there outrunning DBs. He made that play, he made the DBs look like . . . it was awesome.”
On the Hawkeyes’ first drive, the three-TE set was used four times. Duzey caught two passes for 20 yards. Fiedorowicz finished the drive with the 2-yard catch.
“That’s a position we’ve felt good about going back to the spring,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It just worked out here a little bit. It was a package we threw together, I don’t want to say ‘threw together,’ but implemented. Just thought it would help us. The idea was to possess the football and score points. For the most part, we got what we wanted to accomplish out of that.”
Where has this formation been?
“If you can run the ball and pass the ball out of that, it’s tough to stop,” Fiedorowicz said. “Going forward, I hope we do more of that.”
Duzey went into Saturday’s game with four catches for 31 yards this season and seven for 47 for his career. He became Iowa’s first receiver to break 100-yards in a game since wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley had 131 yards against Indiana last season, a span of nine games.
Do you think you’ll see it again?
“The tight ends all hope so,” Duzey said. “It seemed to work pretty well today.”
You might see this three-TE thing again. And when you do, don’t expect a fancy nickname.