Posted by: marcmwm | August 31, 2008

Dismember the Maine . . .

A lot of reporters like to make a hobby out of ripping their copy desk or editors for the edits they don’t make or headlines they don’t write.

I’m not sure who came up with “Dismember the Maine,” but I’m going to give that a rousing golf clap.

Excellent work, fellas.

Dismember the Maine

By Marc Morehouse

Iowa’s Adrian Clayborn (94) tries to bring down Maine’s Jhamal Fluellen (32) during the second quarter of their game Saturday, Aug. 30, 2008 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Well, they did break a sweat. They couldn’t avoid that. It was 76 degrees and sunny, and that was cardiovascular activity with all that heavy gear on.

A treadmill might have been a better workout, but Maine wore a helmet, so it was football. By definition.

The Iowa Hawkeyes got what they wanted out of this.

Running back Shonn Greene knocked off the rust with 109 yards and a touchdown. The quarterback controversy kicked into gear, with Jake Christensen and Ricky Stanzi putting up nearly identical numbers in nearly identical amounts of playing time. And Iowa decided to go this year with kickers who don’t need GPS to find the middle of the uprights.

It ended 46-3 before 70,585 fans Saturday at Kinnick Stadium. Now attention turns to Florida International.

Just kidding.

You want to know about quarterback. Coach Kirk Ferentz said the plan was to rotate them evenly. He sat them down Thursday night and told them how it would go. Christensen, who completed 9 of 15 for 122 yards and a touchdown, was coming out either way after his second-quarter interception.

“I’ll defuse that one,” Ferentz said. “That was part of our plan. If it would’ve been a touchdown pass, we would’ve gone with our rotation.”

Audio slideshow by Brian Ray and Jonathan D. Woods

Christensen, who’s started 14 games for Iowa, fielded questions but was tight-lipped.

“Exactly what you saw,” Christensen said when asked about the rotation. “I’m not really sure exactly. Coach just said, you’re starting and I’ll let you know from there.”

Christensen played three series before leaving on a flub, missing wide-open Paul Chaney for what would have been a 26-yard TD and instead ending up with an interception to safety Brandon McLaughlin.

Both QBs got three series and a quarter each in the second half. They moved the team, with Christensen producing 24 points and Stanzi 20.

Stanzi finished 9 of 14 for 90 yards. He scrambled three times for 22 yards. He finally erased the fact his only completion before Saturday was to a Syracuse defensive back.

“We’ll have to see,” Stanzi said when asked if it’s an open competition. “It depends on what coach calls. It’s his decision. We’re just out there competing and trying to win ball games.”

Iowa (1-0) rolled up 457 yards of offense, its best total since 539 against Purdue in 2006. The Hawks rushed for 245 yards, best since 250 in last year’s opener against Northern Illinois. They scored on their first possession for the first time since the 2006 Alamo Bowl, massaging an ugly 1-for-26 run with that stat.

Running back Jewel Hampton — one of seven true freshmen to play — rushed for 68 yards and two TDs. In his first game since tearing a hamstring muscle at Wisconsin last September, senior wide receiver Andy Brodell had 123 total yards, including 83 on returns. Linebacker A.J. Edds had two tackles for loss, a sack for a safety and a tipped pass Bradley Fletcher caught for an interception.

Iowa’s defense picked off two passes that turned into 14 points. Its lone blemish was allowing Jhamal Fluellen to run for 104 yards on 21 carries.

The Black Bears (0-1), a Football Championship Subdivision school, were simply run over. Their biggest defensive lineman is 251 pounds. That’s big in real life, a toddler on the line of scrimmage in a major college football stadium with $50 tickets and luxury suites.

“I know physically we had a hard time standing up to them,” Maine Coach Jack Cosgrove said. “They’ve obviously got a lot of players who’ve played a lot of time in the Big Ten and it was just really difficult for us to stand up to them.”

In his first game since Oct. 14, 2006, Greene, a 5-11, 235-pounder, ran out of gas in the third quarter. He still put up his first 100-yard game since 116 yards against Ball State in the 2005 season opener — a span of 36 games, only 24 of which he was eligible for. Greene sat out last season because of academics.

“It just felt great being with the team today,” said Greene, whose 1-yard TD run with 10:09 in the first half was his first score since Purdue ’06. “It was nice just to get the jitters out.”

It’s Maine. It all pretty much worked for the Hawkeyes. But do they have a quarterback?

The language is tricky here. Instead of saying “win” the job, Ferentz prefers to say they’re “competing.”

It’s quarterbacks. It’s touchy.

“I’m not … I keep throwing Dr. Phil out there, I hope he doesn’t sue me,” Ferentz said. “Guys are football players and everyone is competing. That’s how it’s supposed to go. If there’s something you don’t like, you just play a little harder and compete a little better.

“That’s always the answer.”

Ferentz doesn’t want to use two QBs all season, but there’s no timetable on naming a full-time starter.

“I still consider Jake our starter, and I think the competition is fairly even,” Ferentz said. “Jake is still our starter, so I would say it’s tilting his way but both guys are playing well and we’re going to keep watching it.”

Dr. Phil couldn’t have said it any better.


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