The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Payne: 2014 quickly becoming a thing of the past

Alyssa Hitchcock
Iowa runing back Jordan Canzeri jumps over Iowa full back Adam Cox during the Cy-Hawk Series game against Iowa State in Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa on Sept. 12, 2015. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cyclones, 31-17. (The Daily Iowan/ Alyssa Hitchcock)

AMES — All week, there had been talk of the hugeness surrounding the 2015 Cy-Hawk game. Iowa fans wondered how the new-look Hawkeyes would fare against an Power-5 opponent. Some even called it the biggest game of head coach Kirk Ferentz’s career.

Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. But that’s not what matters. What matters is the fact Iowa came out on top of a contest with an in-state rival, 31-17, and did enough to prevail following an emotional week.

And although it’s still early in the season, Ferentz and Company are making 2014 easier and easier to forget about.

We’ve heard all the talk about the off-season Iowa had — Ferentz recommitting himself to football and re-evaluating every facet of the program, the team committing to finishing games and a team-first attitude.

Through two games — and granted it has only been two games — Iowa looks like a totally different team than one we’ve seen in the past few years. There is life in this team that’s impossible not to notice.

Ferentz has shown a willingness to try different things — kicker Marshall Koehn has 25 rushing yards this season, for Pete’s sake. Save for the two failed fake-field goals, the majority of the changes Iowa has employed this season have worked.

Yes, a quarterback change is obvious, but perhaps the biggest (and yes, it has to do with the quarterback change) is the competition level of this team. Not that they need a reason to, but this team looks incredibly inspired to play, which, by its own admission, was not the case during every contest last year.

This point can be illustrated by Iowa’s defense allowing no points and only 5 rushing yards in the second half. Quarterback C.J. Beathard made everyone forget about a subpar first half by leading three touchdown drives and providing a spark to his team in the second half.

Perhaps this team’s identity (who knew such a thing could exist this early in a season?) was illustrated most by what happened after the game. Instead of a dead sprint to get to the Cy-Hawk Trophy first, as is commonplace in any college-football trophy game, the Iowa players gathered like they do before the game and swarmed over to the trophy.

No individuals, only a team.

The Hawks didn’t know two starters in Drew Ott and LeShun Daniels Jr. would be sidelined for much of the game because of injuries. They didn’t know they would play and coach with heavy hearts.

It may sound corny or like a cliché, but following the tragic loss of Hawkeye great Tyler Sash earlier in the week, a team that rallies around each other like Iowa did at Jack Trice Stadium is more likely to be successful than a group of individuals playing for the individual and the individual only.

That showed Sept. 12. From the end of last season, throughout spring ball, and throughout camp, Iowa knew it was going to face a test in Ames.

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