University of Iowa senior linebacker James Morris was named Big Ten Conference defensive Player of the Week for his play in the 23-7 win at Minnesota, while senior Mike Meyer was one of three kickers named as a Star of the Week by the Lou Groza Place-Kicker Award. In addition, Athlon Sports named Iowa’s Phil Parker as the Big Ten’s Coordinator of the Week.
Iowa won its fourth straight game while opening league play with a win over the Golden Gophers for the second straight year. The Iowa defense held Minnesota to 30 net rushing yards and 165 yards total offense. Minnesota entered the game averaging 282.2 rushing yards and 41.8 points per game. Minnesota’s only score came on a 34-yard drive following a long kick return. Iowa remains one of two teams in the nation to not allow a rushing touchdown this season.
Through five games, Iowa ranks seventh in the nation in rush defense (79.2) and total defense (265.6), eighth in third down defense (25.4%), tied for eighth in interceptions (8), and tied for 12th in red zone defense (66.7%) and turnovers gained (11).
Morris, a Solon native, recorded eight tackles against the Gophers, just behind the team-leading 10 tackles of fellow senior linebacker Anthony Hitchens. Morris added a quarterback sack and collected his second interception of the season with four minutes remaining to stop Minnesota’s final drive. Senior linebacker Christian Kirksey collected Iowa’s other interception in the game.
Morris has been in Iowa’s starting line-up since early in his freshman season. He has totaled 324 career tackles to rank 15th on the career chart and the interception at Minnesota was the fourth of his career. He is on watch lists for the Bednarik Award, the Lott IMPACT Trophy and the Nagurski Award. He has twice earned academic all-Big Ten honors.
Meyer, a Dubuque native, moved to third in career field goals and career scoring after connecting on three field goals and scoring 11 points in the win at Minnesota. He connected from 49 yards to give Iowa a 3-0 first quarter advantage and added a 23-yard kick in the third quarter. His 46-yard field goal provided the final margin with 4:48 remaining in the game. He made both PAT attempts, increasing his streak to 100 consecutive PATs, which is the fourth-longest active streak in the nation and ranks sixth best all-time in the Big Ten.
Meyer has 53 career field goals and 278 career points, trailing only Nate Kaeding (67, 373) and Rob Houghtlin (54, 290) in both categories. Meyer has made 8-10 field goal attempts this season and leads Iowa in scoring with 43 points. Prior to the season he was named to the Lou Groza Watch List for the third straight season after being a semifinalist in both 2011 and 2012.
The Big Ten honor is the first for Morris and comes one week after teammate B.J. Lowery, a senior defensive back, earned the same honor for his play in Iowa’s win over Western Michigan. In addition, WR Kevonte Martin-Manley was named Big Ten special teams Player of the Week vs. Western Michigan. Iowa has Big Ten Players of the Week for consecutive weeks for the first time since Sept. 19 (QB James Vandenberg) and Sept. 26 (DT Tom Nardo) in 2011.
Iowa (4-1, 1-0) celebrates Homecoming this weekend, hosting Michigan State (3-1, 0-0) Saturday at 11 a.m. (ESPN2).
(release courtesy of hawkeyesports.com)