Kirk Ferentz responds to clock-management criticism

Andrew Logue

IOWA CITY, Ia. -- When it comes to clock management, Kirk Ferentz never runs out of critics.

The Iowa football coach used all three of his timeouts during the second half of Saturday's 20-17 loss to Iowa State.

None resulted in any sort of reprieve.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz talks with officials during Iowa's 20-17 loss to Iowa State on Sept. 13.

A 42-yard field goal by the Cyclones' Cole Netten produced the winning points with 2 seconds remaining — after Ferentz used his third timeout to ice the kicker.

It appeared Netten's initial attempt may have sailed wide.

"Yeah, that's one thing I haven't stayed up late thinking about," Ferentz said Tuesday during his weekly news conference. "It hasn't woke me up."

Giving an opposing kicker a few extra moments to over-think a situation is generally regarded as a no-brainer.

There were two previous timeouts, however, that led to some head scratching.

Ferentz called the first after Iowa State's E.J. Bibbs made a lunging touchdown catch in the third quarter.

Replays showed Bibbs scooped up the ball before it hit the turf, but Ferentz wanted to make sure officials took a second look.

"As I understand it, you're probably wasting timeouts when you do," Ferentz said. "Anything close is getting reviewed. Sometimes you take that extra step, I guess."

When the Cyclones drove inside Iowa's 35-yard line, Ferentz passed on a chance to call his second timeout with 1:09 left in the fourth quarter.

"As they got closer to the field goal, we thought about it," Ferentz said. "I'm not sure what a big difference that was, but it is a consideration.

"It also gives (Iowa State) more time to operate. They had three timeouts, too."

Ferentz eventually called timeout with 36 seconds left, which meant more than 30 seconds elapsed.

It's always dicey trying to figure how things might have unfolded, and how the Cyclones may have reacted. But Iowa could have given itself 40 or 50 seconds to respond after Netten's kick. Instead, Iowa only had time for a desperation kickoff return.

This sort of speculation is nothing new for Ferentz, whose late-game decisions have elicited exhilaration and exasperation over the years.

In 2009, the Hawkeyes drove 70-yards in the closing 1:37 to beat Michigan State 15-13. Ricky Stanzi threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Marvin McNutt as the time expired.

Others will recall a 2010 loss to Wisconsin, when Iowa started at its own 25-yard line with 1:06 remaining and three timeouts, needing only a field goal to win.

The Badgers held on for a 31-30 victory when running back Adam Robinson caught a pass from Stanzi and turned upfield instead of going out of bounds.

Heck, even the signature play of Ferentz's career — Drew Tate's 56-yard pass to Warren Holloway to beat Louisiana State at the 2005 Capital One Bowl — was looking like a complete debacle until the last glorious instant.

Last week's defeat left room for discussion.

Should the Hawkeyes have used their last two timeouts earlier? Or, would it have given the Cyclones time to gather their thoughts?

"I just think about what's in between the lines," linebacker Quinton Alston said. "I let the coaches coach. Regardless what they call, I support them in anything they do."

Senior receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley agreed, but watching time pass can be painful.

"We were on the sideline, talking amongst ourselves, 'You think we should use a timeout?' " Martin-Manley recalled. "We definitely need those seconds to work as an offense, keep that hope."