IOWA CITY -- A pair of Australian punters turned the turf at Kinnick Stadium into their personal playground Saturday.
Iowa’s Michael Sleep-Dalton and Rutgers’ Adam Korsak used their legs to create field position challenges for both teams in the Hawkeyes’ 30-0 shutout of the Scarlet Knights.
Sleep-Dalton, a senior from Geelong, Australia, averaged 48.3 yards on six punts while Korsak, a junior from Melbourne, Australia, deposited seven of his 10 punts inside the Iowa 20-yard line while averaging 47.6 yards per attempt.
“It was a tough game field position-wise,’’ Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “A lot of credit to Michael Sleep-Dalton, he had a great game. I don’t know if I’ve ever been involved in a college game where two punters played as well as both of those guys.’’
For the Iowa graduate transfer from Arizona State, it was a good follow-up to the 31-yarder he kicked in his only attempt in the Hawkeyes’ season-opening victory.
“It felt good, a couple of Aussies going at it and I’m just glad that my team won,’’ Sleep-Dalton said. “I only had the one chance last week, which is good in some ways, too, but both weeks I felt good about my preparation and it’s always good to see that carry over to the game field.’’
Iowa’s net punting average against the Scarlet Knights was a difference-making 46.7 yards per attempt, more than 11 yards better than the Hawkeyes averaged last season.
PATIENT APPROACH: Field position forced the Hawkeyes’ offense to take more of a patient approach as it worked to flip the field against Rutgers.
“I’ve never been involved in a game like that where it was five times from the 11-yard line on in and three times from the two or in,’’ Ferentz said. “It makes it really tough and restricts what you can do, but we fought our way through it. Everybody stayed patient and it paid off for us.’’
The Hawkeyes rushed for 194 yards, an effort led by 59 yards apiece from Mekhi Sargent and Toren Young, and balanced its attack with 244 yards through the air.
A MATTER OF INCHES: After plowing his way for seven yards on a first-down carry from the Iowa 3-yard line, quarterback Nate Stanley picked up the one yard Iowa needed to move the chains on a fourth-and-1 play later in an 11-play, 97-yard drive that resulted in Iowa’s second touchdown.
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Stanley gained the needed yardage despite a high snap from center Tyler Linderbaum.
“The offensive line did a good job of responding there and gave me the chance to get the half-yard or so we needed,’’ Stanley said. “I just tried to make the most of the hole that was there.’’
CLIMBING THE CHARTS: Stanley threw three touchdown passes Saturday, giving him 57 in his Iowa career and moving him past Ricky Stanzi and into third on Iowa’s career list.
With his 10th career game of three or more touchdown passes, The senior now trails only the 61 thrown by Drew Tate and the 74 recorded by Chuck Long in Hawkeye history.
MISSING MERRIWEATHER: Iowa played Saturday without starting free safety Kaevon Merriweather.
He sprained a foot during practice Friday, moving walk-on Jack Koerner into the lineup in a secondary that was already missing back-up cornerbacks Riley Moss and Julius Brents because of injury.
“I felt ready,’’ said Koerner, a sophomore from West Des Moines Dowling. “I’ve been working hard and I didn’t want to let anybody down. I came out ready to compete and play smart.’’
Koerner finished with four tackles in the game.
Strong safety Geno Stone exited in the fourth quarter with a leg injury, but both Stone and Ferentz said it was not a major issue.
“I’m fine,’’ Stone said. “It was no big deal.’’