Sunday, October 11, 2009

Moeaki Shines in Iowa Win

Tony Moeaki has dislocated his elbow and injured his wrist, he has broken his foot and strained his calf, and most recently, he has sprained his ankle. His body is marred with scars, his career is littered with "What if's,"� his name is synonymous with bad luck. But on Saturday night, all of that was seemingly forgotten.

The man whose teammates call him a "freak,"� played on Saturday for the first time in nearly a month. This time, it was an ankle injury that held back the senior.

Like his 10-catch, 83-yard in Iowa's season-opener against Northern Iowa, Moeaki found nearly every crevasse in Greg Robinson's porous Michigan defense en route to a career night.

"He came back with a bang,"� said Erik Campbell, Iowa's wide receivers and tight ends coach.

In Iowa's 30-28 win over the Wolverines, Moeaki served as a sparkplug for a Hawkeye offense that was badly missing its star tight end. Quarterback Ricky Stanzi looked to Moeaki early and often, especially down the middle of the field.

On the game's second drive, the duo hooked up for a 34-yard touchdown pass, and to seal the game, Stanzi found Moeaki, who the quarterback said was his third option on the play, wide open on a drag route. Forty-two yards later, Moeaki had put the Hawkeyes up 30-28 with 13:06 remaining.

"When he slips out into the open for passes, he's great at catching the football, getting on the run, and getting to the end zone,"� Stanzi said. "He has a knack for finding the end zone."�

Hawkeye fans have only seen that knack in glimpses. There was his 35-yard catch from quarterback Drew Tate in 2006 - only the second touchdown grab of his then-young career.

There was, most memorably, his eight-catch, 112-yard, three-touchdown performance against Syracuse in 2007. Two games later, he was lost for the season with an elbow and wrist injuries. And then there was Saturday, when Moeaki again shredded a secondary for 100-plus yards and two touchdowns.

It was the Moeaki fans had expected to see when he came on campus as one of the centerpieces of Iowa's heralded 2005 recruiting class.

"To be honest, it was just nice to be out there with my teammates,"� Moeaki said. "Running out of the tunnel with my teammates is always really special to me."�

What gets lost is the tight end's performance on Saturday is his blocking ability. On Iowa's opening drive of the second half, running back Adam Robinson ran for 40 yards on three carries, leading to Daniel Murray's third field goal of the evening.

On that drive and on several other occasions, Robinson was running to Moeaki's side of the line, clearing out seemingly every Wolverine defender in his way.

"I haven't been around a better one, personally, and that's at any level,"� head coach Kirk Ferentz said of the tight end's blocking ability. "I think he's really good, really good."�

Wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos added, "[He's] unbelievable. " The guy is one of the best teammates I've ever played with as far as talent and for the love of the game. It's amazing. There's nothing about Tony that's a fluke. "Every time he gets a chance, he makes plays."�

Indeed, over the past five seasons, Moeaki has been one of Iowa's biggest offensive weapons "” when he has played. His contributes have been limited by his injuries, but it's on nights like Saturday when Hawkeye fans truly get to marvel at what a healthy Moeaki can do to opposing defenses.

"I'll definitely savor this game for sure,"� Moeaki said. "It was a blast."�

Full Article