Posted by: marcmwm | September 27, 2008

Welcome to the year 2001 . . .

That was the year of the Grant Steen interception and fumble at Iowa State. Remember that play? The outside linebacker, steady a player as Iowa had that year, picks off a pass and returns into field goal territory only to have the ball stripped.

Iowa lost. Found an ugly way to lose. Iowa also short-circuited at Purdue and Michigan State that year. Iowa set a bunch of season lows on offense and handed Purdue one in West Lafayette. At East Lansing, four interceptions unplugged a comeback effort from 21-7.

Of course, Michigan that year came apart when the Hawkeyes made Marquise Walker a high NFL draft pick. McCann was booed in that one.

Point is, the Hawkeyes found ways to lose. Kinda like Saturday.

This “learning how to win” thing is a process. It didn’t come easy for a team that blossomed into the 8-0 Big Ten, Orange Bowl, one of the school’s best-ever teams. It’s not going to come easy for the 2008 Hawkeyes, who, late in the second half in Saturday’s 22-17 gut-wrencher, were depending on a freshman running back and sophomore quarterback.

Let’s see, the turnovers. We can go over those.

No. 1 — Ricky Stanzi fumble on center snap. It killed a drive that reached NU’s 22. Two first-year players, essentially, there with Stanzi and center Rob Bruggeman.

No. 2 — Stanzi throws interception into zone blitz. Great play and call by NU. First-year player, again, making a mistake, seeing something new, perhaps.

No. 3– Andy Brodell fumbled punt. This was a senior who said he should know better and he’s right. He should.

No. 4 — Amari Spievey fumbled kick return. This was a first-year player making his first-ever kick return. Again, young team suffering some growing pains.

No. 5 — Shonn Greene, thunder-clap hit and fumble. Greene is a junior, but you know his story. Academics, limbo, no football since 2006.

Last week at Pittsburgh, Ferentz stuck with Jake Christensen and that showed up in the final score. But so did a ton of special teams mistakes, a rickety first half with young defenders missing plays (Tyler Sash and Shaun Prater missed tackles on that QB draw everyone knew was coming) and punts were blown by the sophomore punter and the sophomore kicker missed a 30-something field goal.

The 2001 Hawkeyes held serve. They won home games against Penn State, Indiana and Minnesota. They blew out Northwestern, 59-16, at Evanston.

This team is going to have to hold serve and then some.

Without getting too far ahead of the game, the Hawkeyes go on the road for two (Michigan State and Indiana) and then finish up with three at home (Wisconsin, Penn State and Purdue) and two on the road (Illinois and Minnesota).

Hey, let’s not kid ourselves, this team is going to have to steal one, maybe two, if it wants to bring the Insight Bowl guy back from the brink of death.

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