IOWA CITY — A pair of Australian punters turned the turf at Kinnick Stadium into their personal playground Saturday.
Iowa’s Michael Sleep-Dalton and Rutgers’ Adam Korsak used their legs to create field position challenges for both teams in the Hawkeyes’ 30-0 shutout of the Scarlet Knights.
Sleep-Dalton, a senior from Geelong, Australia, averaged 48.3 yards on six punts while Korsak, a junior from Melbourne, Australia, deposited seven of his 10 punts inside the Iowa 20-yard line while averaging 47.6 yards per attempt.
"It was a tough game field position-wise," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "A lot of credit to Michael Sleep-Dalton, he had a great game. I don’t know if I’ve ever been involved in a college game where two punters played as well as both of those guys."
For the Iowa graduate transfer from Arizona State, it was a good follow-up to the 31-yarder he kicked in his only attempt in the Hawkeyes’ season-opening victory.
"It felt good, a couple of Aussies going at it, and I’m just glad that my team won," Sleep-Dalton said. “I only had the one chance last week, which is good in some ways, too, but both weeks I felt good about my preparation, and it’s always good to see that carry over to the game field."
Iowa’s net punting average against the Scarlet Knights was a difference-making 46.7 yards per attempt, more than 11 yards better than the Hawkeyes averaged last season.
Patient approach: Field position forced the Hawkeyes’ offense to take more of a patient approach as it worked to flip the field against Rutgers.
"I’ve never been involved in a game like that where it was five times from the 11 yard on in and three times from the 2 or in," Ferentz said. “It makes it really tough and restricts what you can do, but we fought our way through it. Everybody stayed patient and it paid off for us."
The Hawkeyes rushed for 194 yards, an effort led by 59 yards apiece from Mekhi Sargent and Toren Young, and balanced its attack with 244 yards through the air.
A matter of inches: After plowing his way for 7 yards on a first-down carry from the Iowa 3-yard line, quarterback Nate Stanley picked up the 1 yard Iowa needed to move the chains on a fourth-and-1 play later in an 11-play, 97-yard drive that resulted in Iowa’s second touchdown.
Stanley gained the needed yardage despite a high snap from center Tyler Linderbaum.
"The offensive line did a good job of responding there and gave me the chance to get the half-yard or so we needed," Stanley said. "I just tried to make the most of the hole that was there."
Climbing the charts: Stanley threw three touchdown passes Saturday, giving him 57 in his Iowa career and moving him past Ricky Stanzi and into third on Iowa’s career list.
With his 10th career game of three or more touchdown passes, The senior now trails only the 61 thrown by Drew Tate and the 74 recorded by Chuck Long in Hawkeye history.
Missing Merriweather: Iowa played Saturday without starting free safety Kaevon Merriweather.
He sprained a foot during practice Friday, moving walk-on Jack Koerner into the lineup in a secondary that was already missing backup cornerbacks Riley Moss and Julius Brents because of injury.
"I felt ready," said Koerner, a sophomore walk-on from West Des Moines Dowling. "I’ve been working hard, and I didn’t want to let anybody down. I came out ready to compete and play smart."
Koerner finished with four tackles in the game.
Strong safety Geno Stone exited in the fourth quarter with a leg injury, but both Stone and Ferentz said it was not a major issue.
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"I’m fine," Stone said. "It was no big deal."
Stone said he was more excited about Koerner’s performance.
"He did a great job stepping in. We’re getting a little thin on the back end (of the defense) and he came out and gave us a great effort," Stone said.
The long ball: Keith Duncan established a career best when he split the uprights with a 46-yard field goal with 3 minutes, 50 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
The previous best for Duncan, who also connected on a 19-yard attempt as time expired in the first half, was 41 yards in a 2016 game against Wisconsin.
Hayes returns: Former Hawkeye defensive back Tom Hayes was Iowa’s honorary captain Saturday.
A 40-year coaching veteran who concluded his career as the defensive coordinator at Kansas State from 2011-17, Hayes accompanied Iowa's captains to the field pregame for the coin flip and was with the team before and after the game.
Iowa honored its 1969 football and NCAA champion men's gymnastics teams as well.
Halftime hit: Pat Green, whose song Wave on Wave is played after the first quarter of every game as part of the Kinnick Wave, performed his song live as part of a halftime show with the Hawkeye Marching Band.
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