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Vandenberg's confidence stirred, not shaken after slow start

September 11, 2012 - Andy Heintz
Iowa senior QB James Vandenberg was regarded as the Big Ten Conference's best pure passer before the season began. And he was one reason Iowa may find success this year.

All the other contending programs -- with the exception of Michigan -- lost their starting QB from a season. Vandenberg was back and ready to lead Iowa's new-look offense.

However, through two games, the Iowa offensive train has yet to leave the station, scoring just one TD in eight quarters. And Vandenberg has yet to throw a touchdown pass.

"We have seen good things in practice," Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. "We just need to have it come up on the field. We are not there yet, but we are not that far off either."

And what about Vandenberg's confidence.

"He's all right," Ferentz said. "I haven't talked to him but I am sure he is disappointed. No one is more dedicated to this team. It'll get better, and he'll be a big part of that."

Vandenberg did not look frustrated and confused and lacking confidence after Saturday's loss. He admitted that things weren't quite right and needed to be improved. But he said the effort would need to come from all 11 starters on offense.

"I am sure everyone out there can look back and see what something they can do better to help this offense score more points," Vandenberg said Saturday. "We'll just go back to work and try to get this thing moving."

Hawkeye fans are unsure of what to think of the new offense under Greg Davis. The passing game is very shaky but is it the system or the inexperience at the wide receiver positions.

There are way too many short passes being thrown but also the deep balls that are being tossed by Vandenberg are being dropped.

Junior Don Shumpert dropped a big fourth and 10 pass that would have given Iowa a first down inside the Cyclone 40 late in the game down three points.

Junior tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz had some bright spots but also looked upset at himself late in the game when he couldn't come up with a Vandenberg pass that was well covered by Iowa State.

"It was a tough loss and a tough pill to swallow," Ferentz said. "We came up a little short, but we moved on Sunday and are now focused on UNI."

The Hawkeyes need to move on because the Panthers will not be intimidated by this year's Iowa team. UNI went into Madison and nearly knocked off nationally ranked Wisconsin two weeks ago and won this past weekend 59-0 over an overmatched Division II school.

"They are another excellent UNI football team," Ferentz said. They play extremely hard, are well-coached and play well in all three phases. That defense is playing phenomenal right now."

Both defenses are playing great. Iowa and UNI are both allowing just 13 points per game through two games. That is good for 25th in FBS play for the Hawkeyes and 15th in FCS play for the Panthers.

Saturday's game will from Kinnick Stadium will kick off at 2:42 p.m. and be televised by the Big Ten Network. University of Iowa is asking the fans to take part in the "Be Bold, Wear Gold" promotion in the stadium. Fans are asked to wear their favorite gold Hawkeye attire.


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