Duncan continues to be vital part of Iowa football

With his 22nd field goal this season, Keith Duncan sits atop Iowa’s all-time leaderboard and is tied for the national lead in field goals made.

Iowa+kicker+Keith+Duncan+attempts+a+field+goal+during+the+Iowa+football+game+against+Purdue+at+Kinnick+Stadium+on+Saturday%2C+Oct.+19%2C+2019.+The+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+Boilermakers+26-20.

Katina Zentz

Iowa kicker Keith Duncan attempts a field goal during the Iowa football game against Purdue at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Boilermakers 26-20.

Anna Kayser, Sports Editor

Among all uncertainties within Iowa’s scoring offense, there is one tried and true component that has bailed the Hawkeyes out exactly 22 times this season.

On Saturday, Iowa kicker Keith Duncan nailed three field goals to break the program’s single-season record for field goals made.

He’s tied atop the NCAA leaderboard in field goals, leads it with an average of 2.44 field goals per game, is ranked 19th in country with 85 points scored, and is 21st in field-goal percentage.

Despite the success that Duncan has found this season, setting that record doesn’t mean as much as a team win does.

“It’s awesome to be with names of like Nate Kaeding and stuff like that, but yeah, of course we love to win,” Duncan said. “Our job is to go out there and excuse and put points on the board as a field goal unit. We did our job [on Saturday]. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t get enough.”

Duncan has had different experiences on the field in his second year as a starter, from going four-for-four in almost every type of weather and field conditions imaginable against Iowa State on Sept. 14 to battling the wind and the loud atmospheres at various Big Ten stadiums.

He missed one field goal against Northwestern because of the wind, and it’s a factor that he continues to looks out for during every game. Against Wisconsin, his approach to that didn’t change.

“[The wind] wasn’t playing too much,” Duncan said. “Pre-game was a little bit more breezy than the game, so that helped out a little bit.”

The theme of the season for Iowa football has been settling for field goals, as evidenced by Duncan’s record with three regular-season games still remaining.

The pressure Wisconsin was putting on in that first half made Duncan’s job important, and when the offense mounted a touchdown-driven comeback, those early field goals proved to be critical to the game.

For the entire season, special teams has been the most reliable part of Iowa’s team, something that hasn’t been true in past years.

“He’s done a great job all along this season, and he’s playing extremely well,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “And, you know, tip of the hat to Michael Sleep-Dalton too. I thought he punted really well today and gave us a chance, especially in that second half.”

Duncan and Sleep-Dalton have been two forces to keep Iowa in the game.

Sleep-Dalton punted four times in Camp Randall and placed them all within Wisconsin’s 20-yard line. He averaged 41.2 yards per each punt and hit a long of 49 yards to give Iowa’s defense a good chance in field position.

Now, with the season narrowing toward a bowl game instead of the Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis, the mindset has focused but hasn’t faltered for Iowa or its special teams.

“We just want to look at it as a week at a time, so the best we can do next week is be 7-3, and that’s our goal,” Duncan said.

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