What was behind Ferentz's bold fourth-down decision

Rick Brown
Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock calls a play against Indiana on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.

IOWA CITY, Ia. Three seconds on the clock, fourth and goal from the Indiana 1.

That was the challenge facing the Iowa offense on the final play of the first half Saturday at Kinnick Stadium.

Mark Weisman got the handoff, found space cleared by center Tommy Gaul and right guard Austin Blythe and scored for a 38-21 halftime lead.

"It was huge for our team," Blythe said after the 45-29 victory. "We went in juiced at halftime."

Weisman is now 6-for-6 in converting fourth-down plays this season. He said there wasn't much talk in the huddle before the play.

"I don't know if anything said (in the huddle) was memorable," Weisman said. "They were just telling me to get the heck in the end zone."

The play was originally planned to go to the left side of the line, but Indiana coach Kevin Wilson called timeout just as quarterback Jake Rudock got the snap and handed off the Weisman.

"They got a good look at it," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said of the play. "Good timing on their part. We just decided to change."

Ferentz said the play was changed after conversations with offensive coordinator Greg Davis in the press box.

"All the coaches were in communication on that," Ferentz said. "We felt it was best to change it."

Ferentz said he never considered kicking a field goal.

"We have faith in our guys," Ferentz said. "We wanted to play aggressively at that point."

Indiana, playing uphill after falling into 14-0 and 28-7 deficits, couldn't make a serious second-half rally after Weisman's score.

"We had a chance to make a stop on fourth down, and we didn't," Wilson said.

Iowa has gone for it on fourth down 12 times this season, and converted nine of them.

Iowa also converted on a fourth-and-2 from the Indiana 19 on its first drive of the game. Weisman moved the chains with a 3-yard run.

"We've done a good job with that," Blythe said. "We've proven we deserve to go for it on fourth down. It's always fun getting it, too."