Posted by: marcmwm | November 8, 2008

‘You’ve got to let the kid out sometimes’

IOWA CITY — Daniel Murray has been there, done that with this game-winning stuff.

He didn’t do it for the Hawkeyes. He didn’t even do it as a kicker.

It was the 2005 Class 1A state semifinals. The Iowa City Regina Regals were down to their last shot and faced overtime. With 18 seconds left, Murray came out of nowhere and gathered in a wounded duck 35-yard pass a touchdown for a 10-7 Regina victory.

This game-winning, clutch stuff is nothing new for Murray. But yeah, the stakes were a little different Saturday.

Murray, trying his first field goal in nearly two months, connected from 31 yards out to lift the Hawkeyes over No. 3 Penn State.

“I think being an Iowa City kid only makes it better,” said Murray, who was 1-for-3 this season going into that final kick with 6 seconds left to beat this season’s Big Ten heavyweight. “Growing up watching it all, you kind of understand the history and tradition of the entire program. It’s something you always dream of.”

Last year at Wisconsin, on ABC national primetime television, Murray drilled 2 of 3 field goals and basically kept the Hawkeyes in a close 17-13 game. That’s what coach Kirk Ferentz drew on Saturday when he made the choice to go with Murray over true freshman Trent Mossbrucker.

Mossbrucker had been Iowa’s No. 1 kicker since Murray missed a 35-yarder in Iowa’s one-point loss at Pittsburgh. Mossbrucker hadn’t missed a field goal since having one blocked against Florida International on Sept. 6. Before missing one last week, he had a streak of nine straight.

“That’s in my mind bank, yes,” Ferentz said of Murray’s performance last season as a freshman at Madison. “That didn’t guarntee anything, but that was part of my memory.”

The weather shaped the plan Saturday. With winds whipping Kinnick Stadium from the north at 22 to 30 mph, it was decided that Murray would handle all field goals from the 25-yard line and beyond. That plan changed in the waning moments when Ferentz and co-special teams coach Lester Erb agreed to go with Murray’s experience over Mossbrucker’s hot streak.

Mossbrucker, who’s 13 of 15 this season, was visibly upset.

“He’s a competitor and he wanted to be the guy kicking it,” Ferentz said. “I appreciate that, I have no problem with that at all.”

Murray thanked coaches numerous times for having the faith in him. Until the game-winner with 1 second left on the clock Saturday, Murray was looking at a career as the kickoff specialist, being a sophomore behind a freshman.

But now, who knows?

“For them to out the confidence in me, I can only thank them so much for it,” said Murray, who’s now 9 of 14 in his career. “No one said anything to me. They just had the confidence.”

The last game-winning field goal for the Hawkeyes is believed to be Nate Kaeding’s 47-yarder with 44 seconds left in Iowa’s 2001 Alamo Bowl victory over Texas Tech.

“They’ve always told me to stay ready,” Murray said. “I took that seriously and stayed ready every game. Trent will come out next game and he’ll probably do all the field goals again. We just have to keep battling to improve each other.”

The protocol for handling a kicker in a game-winning situation seems to vary, at least within the Hawkeyes’ ranks.

Punter Ryan Donahue, who’s the holder for field goals, kept telling him to stay calm.

“As soon as they told him he was going to take it, I said it’s just like practice,” Donahue said. “He knew it too. I didn’t have to say it. He knew it.”

Ferentz is a hands-off guy when it comes to this situation.

“I didn’t say a word,” Ferentz said. “He knows what he’s supposed to do. And he also knows I know nothing about kicking.”

After Murray connected, he turned and ran toward the on-rushing Kinnick fans. He then did a slide on his knees, an ode to his days on the soccer pitch, when he scored 118 goals for the Regals and earned a soccer scholarship offer from the University of Kentucky.

In that moment, it was worth it, the walking on, paying his own way and balancing the game with a demanding major in mechanical engineering.

“You’ve got to let the kid out of you sometimes,” Murray said. “You picture it all the time when you’re growing up. It’s kind of like that.”

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Responses

  1. YEAH BABY!!!! What a great kick and that take NOTHING away from Trent.

    He’s been great all yr. but KF made the call he’s paid a lot of jing for and it paid off.

    A game for the ages as, quite frankly, we didn’t deserve to win, and pulled victory frm the jaws of defeat.

  2. We did deserve to win. This team deserves the credit, too. We are easily the best 6-4 team in the country.

    Btw, Marc, who came up with the “YES, THEY DID!” headline? That was very good. I wonder how many people got it.

    Great read today also. Hlas was sharp, too.

  3. You’re right about the jing, E.

    Paul — I think it was Hlas. I asked my wife this morning and she said she got it. My “Hail Murray” came in second.

    And thank you very much.

  4. I picked up an “I-O-Wasn’t” button that a Penn State fan discarded after the game. Yeah, they wuz. That was a fantastic defense and the offense came through at the end.

    Can somebody make the drunk down our row quit complaining about everything this team does? He didn’t like Jake, now he complains about Stanzi. Saturday he complained repeatedly on “Ferentz'” playcalling. Apparently our defense sucked !@#@$%!@#$!$!@$!@%@#%@% too.

    In the reality based universe, our defense punched them in the mouth repeatedly and Parker showed what happens when you blitz and they aren’t prepared for it. Our offense made some mistakes, but were well-rested for the second half and showed poise in the fourth quarter.

  5. Marc, good call on the Iowa defense, which had its performance obscured by Murray’s field goal. It was fabulous.

    As for the drunk, that’s why they make big screen TVs.

  6. What really impressed me about about both sides of the ball were the half-time adjustments. Both the offense and defense seemed to step it up. I’m sure the defense was just gassed going into the locker room at the break but they were much stronger in the 2nd half.

  7. Mitch King and Matt Kroul did their best “John Henry” impressions Saturday. I tried to get Chris Doyle to explain the fitness level — never mind the strength, agility and all the other footballness it takes to do the job of a DT — that King and Kroul display every Saturday, but he didn’t show up on that Tuesday.

    It’s not just those two. The fitness level it takes to play football for Iowa can’t be dismissed. It sets them apart.


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