Moss learns from experience in win over Purdue

After a rough game against Purdue last season, Iowa cornerback Riley Moss bounced back this time around to intercept a pass and break up another.


Iowa defensive back Riley Moss prepares to defend during the Iowa football game against Purdue at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Boilermakers 26-20.

Pete Ruden, Pregame Editor

From 2001-02, there was a man who wore a black Iowa jersey with a white No. 33 on the front and back rocketing across the field.

After winning a Super Bowl and NFL Defensive Player of the Year honor during his professional career with the Indianapolis Colts, that man — Bob Sanders — was invited back to Iowa City to serve as the honorary captain for Iowa’s matchup against Purdue on Saturday.

It just so happened that with the old No. 33 watching, the new No. 33 — Riley Moss — posted his best performance of the 2019 season.

Moss intercepted a pass, broke up another, and recorded two tackles, including a tackle for a loss when thrust in the game in place of starter Matt Hankins.

“I knew they were going to pick on me when I went in, so just mentally I was like, ‘Just got to play my game,’” Moss said. “I practiced all week for this, so I felt confident in that aspect. It’s just Coach [Phil Parker] got us ready. Just do what I know to do, and it worked out well. I was ecstatic.”

Moss’ pick came on his second play in the game on a pass intended for Boilermaker wide receiver David Bell, who lit Iowa up with 13 catches for 197 yards and a touchdown.

The performance proved to be similar to last season when Purdue gashed the Hawkeyes for 333 yards through the air and Terry Wright hauled in six passes for 146 yards and three scores in a 38-36 Boilermaker win.

It wasn’t the best performance for Moss or the secondary as a whole, but they bounced back enough Saturday to secure a victory.

“Riley came in and stepped in fast,” Iowa safety Geno Stone said. “I think it was more of a revenge game for him after last year. I know that was in the back of his mind. I told him just go out there, clear your mind out, and do what you got to do. It’s his first time actually playing meaningful minutes, and I feel like he did a really good job.”

Although it wasn’t good for Iowa at the time, the experience Moss gained in the game against Purdue last season helped this time around.

“The biggest thing is it’s a tribute to him, the way he’s worked since last year,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He was really coming on in camp doing some good things. And then when we lost him to injury, that hurt us a little bit. Not only defensively, but also special teams-wise. So, the credit goes to him, though. Experience doesn’t count if you don’t make it work for you.”

Moss’ impressive outing against the Boilermakers comes a week after returning from injury.

Moss originally went down in Iowa’s season-opener against Miami (Ohio) on Aug. 31 and didn’t return until the Hawkeyes’ matchup against Penn State on Oct. 12.

He came back at the same time as Hankins, who also missed time nursing an injury. The duo tag-teamed the effort against Purdue, with Moss playing the majority of the second half, making key plays along the way.

And he was able to do it all with some motivation from the old No. 33.

“[Sanders] talked to our team last night, and it was really cool to see not only what he had to say, but his connection with Coach Parker and what Coach Parker did for him,” Moss said. “I’m glad I got to see that. It kind of got me riled up.”

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