Iowa's punting game goes from bad to worse

Andrew Logue

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The Iowa special teams units have been hit and miss all season.

Saturday, it was mostly misses.

A deflected punt set up Minnesota's go-ahead touchdown early in the second quarter, and a couple of bobbled kickoffs hampered the Hawkeyes' chances of keeping pace.

"It was just that the ball kind of got there before I did," freshman returner Jonathan Parker said of a gaffe after Minnesota's first touchdown that started Iowa's offense at the 6-yard line. "I just kind of messed up. That's all it was."

Parker has shown flashes of his abilities this season, including a 54-yard return a week ago to open a victory over Northwestern.

Saturday, however, brought more growing pains. He returned five kicks for 67 yards, a 13.4-yard average.

"It's just part of football," Parker said. "You have good times. You have bad times."

There have been very few bright spots for the Hawkeye punters.

Connor Kornbrath's first attempt was tipped by Eric Murray and went just 14 yards. On the next snap, Mitch Leidner hit Donovahn Jones for a 44-yard touchdown.

"I'm not sure if it was a slow get-off, or what," said Kornbrath, who replaced struggling Dillon Kidd last week. "We'll have to check the film.

"You've just got to bounce back from it, make sure you get the ball off in time."