IOWA CITY | Before boarding the bus for a weekend trip to Iowa State, the Iowa football team is looking to clean up its act.
The Hawkeyes were penalized 11 times for 100 yards last Saturday against Missouri State, the most flags Iowa has collected in a game since its 2007 season-opener against Northern Illinois.
“Penalties, mental errors, things like that, they just kill momentum,’’ coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday at his weekly news conference. “A lot of times, they impact field position … What we did Saturday, you’re just not going to win many football games doing that.’’
Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz said the Hawkeyes will work to eliminate needless penalties this week as they work toward Saturday’s 5 p.m. game at Jack Trice Stadium.
“A lot of the stuff we had was stuff that is pretty typical for early in the year, a lot of little things that you can’t afford to do because it does make it harder to keep a drive going,’’ Fiedorowicz said. “Some of it is new guys being on the field, some of it is not enough focus, but it is something that we’ve got to get fixed.’’
Iowa, which was whistled for six penalties totaling 35 yards in its season-opening loss to Northern Illinois, watched the flags fly early and often in its game with Missouri State.
The Hawkeyes were flagged for three holds, three false starts, two personal fouls and one time each for an illegal block, being offsides and for a delay of game. The latter was taken intentionally in the second quarter to provide punter Connor Kornbrath with an additional five yards of room to work with.
“We’ll do that, so really we’re looking at 10 penalties for 95 yards, but that is still too many if you hope to win football games,’’ Ferentz said.
The situations created by the penalties, turning a third-and-1 play into a third-and-6 or tacking 15 yards onto a return, are the real issues that Ferentz has with the missteps.
“It comes down to being mentally tough and giving the attention to detail that you need to have success,’’ running back Mark Weisman said.
“It’s tough enough to move the ball against some of the defenses we see and things are going to happen, but you hope that the play that stops a drive isn’t self-inflicted. Those are the things that need to stop.’’
Ferentz doesn’t want the emphasis on cleaning up penalties to diminish the aggression he expects from the Hawkeyes.
That can sometimes be a fine line.
Iowa was the second-least penalized team in the Big Ten a year ago behind Wisconsin, averaging 40.9 penalty yards per game. The Hawkeyes currently rank ninth in the conference in penalty yards.
“We were pretty good on limiting penalties a year ago, but we won four games, so it’s not the whole answer,’’ Ferentz said. “Penalties do, however, keep you from being successful. Evidence of that was Saturday. We made the chore really hard.’’
- * Cornerback Jordan Lomax was expected to go through at least part of practice on Tuesday as he works his way back from a hamstring injury. Ferentz said it will likely be Thursday before a decision is made as to whether Lomax will play against Iowa State. True freshman Desmond King is expected to make his second start at right cornerback this week.
- Las Vegas oddsmakers have installed Iowa as a three-point favorite to win at Iowa State, the 13th consecutive year the Hawkeyes have been favored against the Cyclones. Ferentz said he was “surprised’’ by that. Iowa is 6-6 in its last 12 games against Iowa State.
- Iowa’s offensive depth chart shows no changes this week, including at wide receiver where starter Don Shumpert is trying to work beyond a couple of drops in last week’s game against Missouri State.
“You keep working. That’s all you can do, get the next one,’’ Shumpert said.
Ferentz said competition between Shumpert and Tevaun Smith remains ongoing at the position and is evaluated weekly.
* The Hawkeyes and Cyclones will be playing at night for just the third time in the 61-year history of the series. Iowa State has won the two previous games which have kicked off at 5 p.m. or later, winning at home in 1999 and in Iowa City in 2002.