The Ottumwa Courier

Iowa Sports

October 25, 2008

Iowa offensive coordinator O’Keefe ignores critics

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — It was a familiar spot for Iowa offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe. The Hawkeyes were struggling to score, and many fans were blaming him.

The team had lost three straight — by a total of nine points — and they failed to score more than 20 points in any of those games. Folks began to flood message boards and call-in shows to rail against O’Keefe, whose offense averaged just 18.5 points in 2007 en route to a 6-6 finish.

Then things just started to click.

The Hawkeyes (5-3, 2-2 Big Ten) hung 45 points on a beleaguered Indiana, and last Saturday they pounded Wisconsin in a 38-16 win, scoring the most points against the Badgers in 30 years.

Behind a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate in Shonn Greene, a maturing quarterback and a line that has made major strides, Iowa is averaging 29.8 points a game this season — good for fourth in the Big Ten.

“We’ve gotten better, and certainly we’re on the track we’d like to be,” O’Keefe said. “If we can take care of the ball...and then get down to the business of executing what we’ve practiced everyday, then you’re giving yourself a chance.”

Iowa is off this weekend but will resume play next week at Illinois.

The key to Iowa’s offense has been Greene, who has developed into one of the nation’s best tailbacks. Greene has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of his first eight games, and he’s third in the nation with 144.2 yards a game.

What’s made Greene’s season all the more spectacular is how he’s done it. He’s averaging a staggering 6.5 yards per carry, and he seems to be getting stronger as the year progresses. Greene had his best game yet against the Badgers, rushing for 217 yards and four touchdowns, including three scores of 34 yards or longer.

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