Leistikow's 4 thoughts: Placekicker a fascinating Cy-Hawk subplot; Tyler Goodson calls game Iowa State's 'Super Bowl'

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — The most recent Cy-Hawk football matchup showed just how important the placekicker can be. On a wet grass field that made for tricky kicking conditions, Keith Duncan booted four field goals — one in each quarter — to help deliver an 18-17 Iowa win at Jack Trice Stadium in 2019.

Two years later, the Hawkeyes’ kicker position again is in the spotlight ... in large part because of his last name.

Jeff Shudak is No. 2 on Iowa State’s all-time scoring list, with 266 career points as a four-year kicker from 1987-90. Shudak made 58 field goals at an impressive 73.4% clip during his time in Ames.

His son, Caleb Shudak, is the Hawkeyes’ first-string kicker now. Caleb took advantage of the COVID-19-impacted 2020 season that didn't count against eligibility to return for a sixth year at Iowa. Now, in Game 2 of his first season as Iowa's field-goal specialist, he gets to kick where his father did — No. 12 Iowa (1-0) at No. 10 Iowa State (1-0) at 3:30 p.m. CT. The game will be televised by ABC.

MORE: Inside Caleb Shudak's winding path to becoming Iowa's starting kicker

"It is cool to think about being on the same field and kicking to the same uprights that he did," Shudak said of his father. "I get a little emotional thinking about it and talking with him about it. It’s so cool. He was my childhood hero. (As a kid), I was like, 'Man, this is the best kicker in the world.'"

Shudak’s journey might seem unexpected, especially considering that, out of Lewis Central High School in Council Bluffs, he was seeking a college with a good engineering program. And Iowa State is known for being a factory of engineers.

Yet when Shudak visited Iowa, he found a more intimate engineering program that fit his learning style and he fell in love with the Hawkeye coaches. For four years, he was a walk-on, too.

"I don’t know if he’ll ever admit it, but (me choosing Iowa) was probably tough for him initially," Shudak said of his father. "He was a diehard Iowa State fan. But seeing how happy it made me and how much better I was getting athletically, academically, as a person that was maturing, I think he really enjoyed that."

Caleb Shudak converted his first two career field goals Saturday in Iowa’s 34-6 win against Indiana. The first one, from 41 yards, came after the Hoosiers called three consecutive timeouts to try to freeze him. The timeouts actually helped, Shudak said.

MORE: Leistikow: Iowa's dismantling of Indiana shouldn't be a surprise. Here's why.

Caleb Shudak converted his first two career field goals in Saturday's 34-6 win against Indiana.

"Got a little more loose. Got a little more comfortable with the situation," said Shudak, who later drilled a 35-yarder. 

Shudak finished his masters degree in engineering in May, and now he’s enjoying this football opportunity to take over for an All-American (and friend) in Duncan, who delivered so many great Hawkeye memories.

What a story it would be Saturday if the 68th Cy-Hawk game comes down to the right foot of a Shudak.

Dad’s advice?

"He said, 'Just take it in. It is a big game and you have the opportunity to play a really good team, but just take it in and enjoy it,'" Shudak said. "He always reminds me that you’ve put in so much work, why stress about it so much? Just have fun."

Take Tyler Linderbaum at his word: He’s “100%” for Saturday.

Iowa’s All-American center is absolutely paramount to the Hawkeyes’ cause Saturday. He played a significant role two years ago in Ames, too. Linderbaum was making his third career start then, and he led quarterback Nate Stanley into the end zone for a key fourth-quarter touchdown.

But for Linderbaum, who is never satisfied, reflecting on the 18-17 win hardly elicited warm and fuzzy thoughts.

"Looking back on the film, I realized just how bad I was in 2019," he said Tuesday.

Linderbaum spoke with a wrap around his upper left leg, which is more than likely heavily bruised after he took a helmet there in the Hawkeyes’ win against Indiana. Though Linderbaum played the rest of the game after a visit to the medical tent, it was more encouraging to hear he was a full go in practice Tuesday. He's been receiving treatment to get ready for Saturday.

The injury, he said, "happened to me before in high school. I knew the same feeling. It was uncomfortable at first. I’m working through it and feeling 100%."

Iowa is pretty healthy overall entering this game. Offensive lineman Kyler Schott (foot) is out again, but head coach Kirk Ferentz said punt/kick returner Charlie Jones and everyone else in the two-deep practiced Tuesday. Jones exited Saturday's game with what appeared to be a leg injury.

More:Can Mediacom customers watch Iowa vs. Iowa State football? Here's what the TEGNA contract stalemate means.

Iowa State running back’s recruitment solidified Tyler Goodson’s path to Iowa.

Goodson said he’s never spoken to All-American Iowa State running back Breece Hall. His story is actually more intertwined with Cyclones backup Jirehl Brock.

Brock was a four-star prospect out of nearby Quincy, Illinois, who was being recruited heavily by Iowa and Iowa State. When word got to Goodson, an Atlanta-area product with a three-star designation, that Brock was taking an official visit to Iowa, that sped up his decision timeline.

"(Brock) was actually coming up on an official visit weekend, and (Iowa coaches) said he was going to commit," Goodson said. "So, they called me and I committed ... because I didn’t want to have him take away my opportunity."

Goodson picked Iowa, and Brock picked Iowa State. It hopefully works out great for both parties. It certainly has for Goodson, who was a first-team all-Big Ten selection in 2020 and had 19 carries for 99 yards and a touchdown in the opener against Indiana.

Brock is the heir apparent to Hall, whom Goodson called "a good running back, in my personal opinion," but added, "I think our defense has the capability to shut him down."

Goodson’s confidence stood out Tuesday among an otherwise generic set of player interviews.

"I think we’ll be successful come Saturday," the junior said.

Goodson smiled at the idea of ESPN’s College GameDay being in Ames this weekend and the fact that Iowa has won the past five meetings, three of which have come at Jack Trice Stadium (31-17 in 2015; 44-41 in 2017; 18-17 in 2019).

"I’m pretty sure their fans are in their head talking about, 'We need to beat the Hawkeyes.' This is like their Super Bowl," Goodson said. "They haven’t beat us in a couple years. I think them being at their home place, knowing College GameDay is going to be there, is a good distraction for them and allows us just to focus on us."

More:ESPN College GameDay is headed to Iowa State for the 2021 Cy-Hawk game

Iowa’s California quarterback understands the magnitude of the rivalry … and one key statistic.

Spencer Petras’ introduction to the Cy-Hawk game came as a true freshman in 2018, when a thunderous chant of "I-O-W-A" rang out from alternating sides of Kinnick Stadium for what the quarterback said felt like 15 minutes. Iowa broke a 3-3 fourth-quarter tie in that game to pull out a hard-fought 13-3 win.

"I was like, 'Holy smokes, this is different than any game I’ve ever been to,'" Petras said Tuesday.

Now Petras is the starting quarterback for the first time in this game, and he’s being entrusted to continue an almost incredible streak in this series. Since Jordan Canzeri’s fourth-quarter fumble in a 17-17 game in 2015, the Hawkeyes have gone 294 plays over six years without a single offensive turnover against the Cyclones.

No interceptions and no lost fumbles (just one has been even put on the ground by Iowa in the last four-plus meetings, by T.J. Hockenson in 2017) on the way to 1,594 yards of offense and 131 points in 16-plus quarters. Considering Iowa coughed up two fumbles last week vs. Indiana, reducing turnovers will be an area of focus this week.

"I did not know that," Petras said about the turnover-free string that has consumed 249:09 of Cy-Hawk game clock. "Our No. 1 goal offensively is to have zero turnovers. It’s certainly a point of emphasis every week. That’s part of my job, part of our job as an offense."

Hawkeyes columnist Chad Leistikow has covered sports for 26 years with The Des Moines Register, USA TODAY and Iowa City Press-Citizen. Follow @ChadLeistikow on Twitter.